Nabiac Inland Dune Aquifer Water Supply System

The $34.6 million Nabiac Inland Dune Aquifer Water Supply System project has been a long term goal for MidCoast Water Services and aims to provide the community with water security into the future. It will provide an alternative to the Manning Water Supply Scheme, currently providing water to approximately 70,000 people in the Manning and Great Lakes areas.

The project

The Nabiac Inland Dune Aquifer is located approximately 5km south-east of the Nabiac township. Here MidCoast Water Services will develop a borefield and water treatment plant to treat water extracted from the Nabiac aquifer at a maximum rate of 10 million litres per day.

The Nabiac scheme will help reduce the volume of water extracted from the Manning River, which will be subject to stricter environmental flow rules in the near future.


While the project has been in the planning stages for some years, MidCoast Water Services officially started construction in June 2015. The project is due to be completed by November 2018.


The Nabiac Water Supply System has been considered as an alternative water source to the Manning River for over 30 years.

A substantial body of knowledge has been built around the Nabiac Inland Dune Aquifer and the Nabiac Water Supply System over this time, confirming the value of the system as a reliable and sustainable source of water.

The current arrangement of the Manning Water Supply Scheme is subject to operational risks arising from high turbidity and nutrient events within the Manning River and periodic algal blooms within Bootawa Dam.

As a result of increased intensity of rainfall events, the occurrence of high nutrient and turbidity episodes within the Manning also has the potential to increase. 

Cultural significance

The land the project is being developed on was the subject of an historic land partnership between MidCoast Water and the Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council.

MidCoast Water purchased 1600 hectares of the Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council land to be able to progress the project.

The land was previously sandmined Crown land was returned to the Aboriginal community as part of successful Aboriginal land claims by the Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council in the 1990s.

A significant part of the negotiated land dealing saw MidCoast Water bestow a perpetual right of cultural access to members of the land council.

The infrastructure

The system is centred on the extraction of groundwater from the Nabiac Inland Dune Aquifer.

The scheme includes the following major components:

  • the Nabiac groundwater extraction borefield including 14 groundwater bores
  • the Nabiac Water Treatment Plant with capacity to treat up to 10 million litres of water per day
  • the Darawank Reservoir and Pump Station

Over 16 kilometres of pipelines, electrical and telecommunication services will link these components to the existing Manning Water Supply Scheme.

The scope of the project also includes provision to increase the production capacity up to 24 million litres of water per day, accommodating future demands and population growth.

A $9.8 million tender to construct the water treatment plant was awarded to Stirloch Pty Ltd in February 2017.


Funding support

The project is supported by an Australian Government allocation of $9.43 million under the National Stronger Regions Fund and a NSW Government allocation of $2.47 million under the Restart NSW program.