Funding for a solar project in Collinsville was included in Whitsunday Regional Council’s 2020-21 budget. Picture: iStock
Funding for a solar project in Collinsville was included in Whitsunday Regional Council’s 2020-21 budget. Picture: iStock

Sun powers $1.3M project to keep Collinsville water flowing

COLLINSVILLE will harness the power of the sun through a $1.3 million water project that could put a pause on rising water prices.

The Collinsville solar and reservoir project was one of the big ticket items in council's 2020-21 budget, which was announced last week.

The $1.3 million project is primarily funded through government grants under the Building Better Regions fund, but council's $500,000 contribution could be made back in just four years.

The project involves the installation of solar panels that will be used to pump water to reservoirs.

The energy stored during the day will be used to power water flow during the evening, meaning Collinsville water will be off-grid after dark.

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Whitsunday Water chief operating officer Troy Pettiford said this could lead to savings for the council of about $150,000 a year.

"That reservoir will drain down during the night and still give everybody water and then when the sun comes up again the solar turns the pumps back on and fills the reservoir up again," he said.

"We will have enough water when we fill (the reservoirs) up during the day so that everyone (can use) the water at night to wash the dishes or bath the kids. That's just sitting in those tanks so we don't have to run any pumps."

Before the switch to solar, the council will repair the pre-existing reservoir on Mt Devlin.

The solar project will then begin in 2022 as coronavirus has caused issues with importing the materials needed to build solar panels.

Division 4 councillor Michelle Wright said the project would provide some welcome jobs to Collinsville. Picture: Jordan Gilliland
Division 4 councillor Michelle Wright said the project would provide some welcome jobs to Collinsville. Picture: Jordan Gilliland

Beyond the green benefits, the project could also see water prices remain steady in the region.

Mr Pettiford said Sunwater, the company who provide water to areas of the Whitsundays, dictate the costs of water.

However, the savings that will stem from the project mean council could potentially create a buffer for residents.

"Where we can make a difference is how we operate our networks," he said.

"If we can keep those prices down or reduce them, then we can maintain prices to cover that price rise from Sunwater."

Division 4 councillor Michelle Wright said the project would also provide a boost to the Collinsville economy.

"I believe these projects will create growth and definitely local jobs, which is much-needed for our community," she said.

"It is a game changer and it will build resilience within the community."


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