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LOCAL NEWS: $1.1M solar project to secure water supply

Bowen will harness Mother Nature’s energy to help keep water services running when the region is feeling her wrath.

That’s the plan behind a solar project at Bowen Water Treatment Plant that aims to secure access to water during severe weather events.

The $1.1 million project will involve the installation of 1500 solar panels and the integration of two generators.

The generators will allow plant operators to activate the plant in case of an emergency to supply water to the northern region of Bowen.

The hope is to avoid a repeat of Cyclone Debbie, when parts of the region went without water for up to 24 hours and some people were forced to drink out of streams.

Project manager Tenaya James said the new technology would provide a stable source of water and also reduce costs.

“The technology guarantees a much more robust supply of water than previously, without interfering with water quality,” she said.

“It will reduce costs by operating on self-generating non-export solar that’s generated directly on site instead of having to buy electricity off the grid.”

At the moment the treatment facility operates entirely on grid power, but the solar technology will enable the plant to produce 706 megawatt hours of clean energy, which is enough to power 56 homes.

It is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500 tonnes per year.

The project has created jobs for 60 people from conception to completion, with 75 per cent of employees from the Whitsunday region.

Chief operating office Troy Pettiford said the renewable nature of the project meant the new technology would pay for itself over time.

“We’re going to save over $100,000 of operating expenses from power alone,” he said.

“We can then potentially sell back the power we’ll make – this project pays itself off.”

Originally published by the Bowen Independent, reporter Kyle Evans.