Comprehensive Water Scheme

Katanning’s Biggest Day

Friday, March 21, 1958, was described at the official opening of the Comprehensive Water Scheme as Katanning’s biggest day – and not only was the day memorable one from the purely historic point of view but it became memorable also by virtue of the lighthearted celebrations which followed in the evening.
A huge crowd packed close around the newly constructed garden area at the corner of Austral Terrace and Clive Street where the centre of picturesque attraction was the Rotary wishing well.
The focal point of interest was the official dais from where the chairman of the Katanning Road Board, Mr. P. Ladyman, described the new spirit evident in the town; where the Minister for Works and Water Supply, the Hon. J. T. Tonkin, traced the history of the scheme and [aid tribute to the fine effort of the men responsible for its construction; and where the Hon. the Premier, Hon. A.R.G. Hawke, M.L.A. at 3.28pm, turned the valve which shot water high in the well and so officially opened the Comprehensive Water Scheme in Katanning.

lost katanning history comprehensive water supply scheme
Premier, Hon. A.R.G. Hawke, M.L.A. turns the valve to officially open the Katanning Comprehensive Water Scheme watched by Minister for Works and Water Works, the Hon. J. T. Tonkin.

He then unveiled a plaque set in the well to commemorate the occasion on which was inscribed:

Public Works Department
Katanning Town Water Supply
This plaque was unveiled by the Hon. A.R.G. Hawke, M.L.A.
Premier of Western Australia
21st March, 1958.
To commemorate the supply of water
From Wellington Dam under the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme.
The Hon. John T. Tonkin, M.L.A. Minister for Works
J.W. Young, B.C.E. M.I.E. Aust. Director of Works
E. Parker B.C.E. A.M.I.E Aust. Deputy Director of Works

The words “This wishing well was erected by the Rotary Club of Katanning” were inscribed on another brass plate on the top of the well.
Residents of Katanning were keenly aware of the deep significance of the pipe line from Wellington Dam to their town.
To them it was not merely 138 miles of somewhat prosaic steel and concrete but a vital thing which will mean the end to repeated summer privations and bring new life and vitality to their home town.
Like all major projects there where protracted arguments which greeted the original presentation of the Comprehensive Water until the Modified Comprehensive Water Scheme was adopted in official circles.
The first pipe of the scheme was put in position on 19 August, 1949.
After reaching Narrogin and the completion of the northern branch, work commenced on the southern branch at Narrogin in July 1957 with the 12-inch main reaching Wagin in 13 December, 1957 and finally reached Katanning on March 11.

lost katanning water supply history
P.W.D. Inspector W. Patrick applies torch and rod to make the final weld to the Comprehensive Water Supply in Katanning.
Watching him from left are Mr. C.E. Courtis and Mr. F.M. Bowden with P.W.D. Resident Engineer, Mr. H.K. Permain.
lost katanning history water supply
The water from Wellington Dam flows into the Katanning resevoir.
Mr. J.W. Old watches granddaughters Anthea and Glenda McQuarrie cup their hands for a drink of water.

How it worked

Two pumping stations forced water through the 30 inch main from Collie to Narrogin.
For the next few years’ water gravitated through the 59 miles of main to Katanning but, in the summer months, pumping from Narrogin was necessary.
As the demand increased further pumping from Narrogin became necessary and, ultimately, as the population grew a booster pump was installed at Woodanilling to take water over the Moojebing rise.
The cost of constructing the main from Narrogin to Katanning, together with auxiliary works, was £600,000 and was subject to £ for £ subsidy from the Federal Government and was finished three months ahead of schedule.

lost katanning water scheme wellington dam
Construction of Wellington Dam commences

Information sourced from
The Great Southern Herald
Friday 28 March, 1958 edition.

Photos from various sources.

 

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