Out & About at Lake Awoonga — hire canoes are popular.
Out & About at Lake Awoonga — hire canoes are popular.

Industry updated on water with opportunites for work

THEY deliver a presentation only every few years, but when Gladstone Area Water Board takes to the stage, people listen.

GAWB chief executive officer Darren Barlow spoke at last week’s Gladstone Engineering Alliance Conference to update industry on the organisations dealings.

Mr Barlow said managing its main asset, Lake Awoonga, was a constant challenge to due its size.

“Lake Awoonga is the third largest dam in Queensland and about 1.6 times the size of Sydney Harbour,” Mr Barlow said.

“We supply raw and bulk-treated water to the Gladstone region which is roughly two tonnes of water per second, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it never stops.

“That’s what supports all the large and significant industry in Gladstone and (is) one of critical inputs into the production process.”

GAWB is undergoing a routine investigation by the Queensland Competition Authority who review its bulk water prices.

“We are under a regulated five-year period where we submit our capex (capital expenditure) and opex (operational expenditure) for five years and they assess it for prudency and efficiency and then issue an opinion and we use that to set our prices,” Mr Barlow said.

“That means we’ve got five-year work programs and given this (GEA Conference) audience, what we focused on was, roughly speaking, our submission which says we’re going to spend $160 million over five years on our operating expenses and of that about $120 (million) will be spent locally.

“Then we are proposing to spend about $178 million in capital and with this audience they are keen to know what are the big projects coming up and how they can get involved.”

Mr Barlow said about 45 per cent of GAWB’s operational expenditure would be stay-in-business capital such as asset replacement with about 40 per cent regulatory compliance.

“That’s regarding laws and rules particularly around large dams and this (five-year) period is one where there’s big changes proposed around the back end of that period in 2024/25,” he said.

“To do the work on that is about $60 million — all large amounts spent in the local area to keep the dam compliant with the new standards.”

Mr Barlow said most of the work GAWB undertakes is put out to tender.

“We want the community to know what they can compete for and we provide preference to local businesses and local spend.

“If everything is equal and we have a local firm, we’ll choose the locals.”

Click here for more information on GAWB tender opportunites.

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