GLENELG Shire will resurrect Portland’s unique underground hot water network in a redevelopment expected to cost up to $3.5 million.
The council wants to revive a system of heating pipes running through civic buildings in the city centre which are tapped into a geothermal aquifer.
The system installed in the 1980s was shut down by Wannon Water in 2006 as it neared the brink of collapse.
The network is able to heat a variety of public buildings and facilities including municipal offices, the Portland library and swimming pool.
Last week councillors unanimously supported moves to drill a new bore.
Rebuilding the network could cost between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.
Glenelg Shire chief executive Sharon Kelsey told The Standard the council would look towards governments, private partnerships but also green energy funds to back the project.
“There’s no doubt we’ll be looking for assistance from external funding bodies. Historically there’s been a lot of interest so we’ll look at traditional and non-traditional funding sources,” Ms Kelsey said. “It’s a fairly unique project.”
Wannon Water, which previously owned the system, has declined an offer from Glenelg Shire to be a joint partner in the project.
Ms Kelsey said the system would likely save council’s energy bills in the long run — although the figure is yet to be established.
“All of those will go into the calculations.”
GHD consultants are drawing up plans for the project.
In a statement, Glenelg Shire mayor John Northcott said the system would be entirely owned and operated by the council — provided Southern Rural Water approved licenses and permits to drill a new bore.
“There is a high operating cost and large carbon footprint with the existing system, as well as unreliability and ageing of the circulating main and unreliability and boiler problems relating to uncontrolled water quality in circulating water,” he said.
“With this new development, there will be quantifiable and substantial benefits in relation to both sustainability and environmental considerations.”