What is the Goldfields Pipeline?

The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme was an enormous engineering achievement led by C.Y O’Connor. Completed in 1903, it spans over 560 kilometres between Mundaring and Kalgoorlie. Also referred to as The Golden Pipeline, the scheme continues to operate today and supplies water to around 100,000 people.

What do the upgrades involve?

Upgrades are typically undertaken in sections spanning several kilometres and involve the following three stages:

  1. Identification of a section of pipe that is no longer suitable for use
  2. Installation of a new section of belowground pipe to meet today’s performance, safety, security and cost requirements.
  3. Removal and recycling of the non-operational aboveground pipe.

Why can’t the non-operational pipeline stay where it is?

There is a significant cost associated with maintaining any above ground pipeline. Without regular maintenance the non-operational pipeline could present safety risks to the public as it will rust and deteriorate over time.

How much of the original pipeline remains?

In 2015, the main pipeline was made up of 43.4% Locking Bar (1901-1920s), 4.6% Kellerberrin pipe (1938-1958), and 52% was Mild Steel Cement Lined (1926-2016) with 90.6% of the pipeline aboveground.

Has the pipeline been upgraded recently?

In 2014 we obtained approval remove 5.8 kilometres of pipeline in Meckering. We have also undertaken emergency replacements of small sections of the pipeline to fix leaks.

What heritage listings titles apply to the Golden Pipeline?

The pipeline and associated infrastructure was included on the National Heritage List in June 2011 following a submission by Engineers Australia, supported by the National Trust. It is protected under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme is also on the assessment program of the Heritage Council of Western Australia and various components are included on the State Heritage Register and various local government Heritage lists.

Other national landmarks that share this listing are the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Fremantle Prison.

What portion of the pipeline is scheduled for replacement over the next 50 years?

Our capital program is based on a five year outlook and the replacement is determined by the age and condition of the pipeline. At this stage, we plan to replace approximately 8-10 kilometres of pipeline per year at various locations over the length of the pipeline. 

Any removal and recycling of the above ground pipe identified for future upgrades cannot be undertaken until a determination by the regulators has been made.

You can view a detailed interactive map showing the above ground pipe locations via our Goldfields Pipe Upgrade project page (External link).

How can the heritage values of the pipeline be preserved?

We value the heritage of the Golden Pipeline and recognise its importance to the community. Some options that are being considered are:
  • Archival recording in accordance with the standards of the State Heritage Office for each section of pipeline that is removed.
  • Repurposing high quality pieces of the pipeline to showcase in the community. For example, a section of the pipeline was reused as a bar at the Perth International Arts Festival and a section of C.Y O’Connor’s original Goldfields Pipeline is now on display in Bernard Park in Northam.
  • Potential retention of strategic sections of the pipeline where they are of value to the community. For example, on main entry ways to towns, on stops along the highway in between towns where locals and tourists can see the pipeline in a safe environment.