New supply opening for Te Hiku bulk water carriers

Published on 04 February 2021

Bulk water temporary site - Feb 2021

Te Hiku bulk water carriers will soon fill-up from their own temporary water supply as the Council moves to reduce pressure on Kaitaia’s primary water source, the Awanui River.

Rainfall has largely missed the Awanui catchment and levels in the river have declined steadily since the beginning of December. Without significant rain, it is predicted river flows could fall below the Northland Regional Council water take consent level within weeks or even sooner.

Kaitaia is already on Level 3 restrictions banning many outdoor water uses. To further reduce demand on the town supply, Far North District Council will reopen a Sweetwater bore it already has resource consent to draw water from. The water will be treated onsite by a mobile water treatment plant and piped to a metered tanker collection point at the south end of Bird Road. It is intended to have the Kaitaia Sweetwater Temporary Emergency Tanker Supply operational by the middle of February.

Mayor John Carter says the Kaitaia temporary bulk water supply is the same one initially developed at the height of the 2019/20 drought.

“In the end we did not use that supply as the drought had broken and there was no longer a need to maintain separate water treatment systems. However, we learned a lot setting up that supply and we know we can gain much-needed extra capacity for Kaitaia by diverting bulk water carriers away from the town supply.”

He says there will be no extra charge for water sourced from the temporary supply although transport costs charged by carriers may vary: “We are acutely aware that refilling water tanks is a significant financial hurdle for some Te Hiku households. This water will cost $3.17 per cubic metre – the same fee we charge all Far North residential and commercial customers for treated water.”

Mayor Carter adds that the temporary bulk water supply should not be confused with the new permanent secondary water source the Council is now developing for Kaitaia.

“Work on a separate bore site at Sweetwater is ongoing and we are committed to completing this by next summer. This water will be piped 14km directly to our Kaitaia treatment plant and will permanently supplement supplies from the Awanui River. This will dramatically improve the town’s water resilience in the future.”

Last year demand for treated water from households reliant on rainwater tanks climbed dramatically as the drought intensified. In January 2020, the Council provided 1444 cubic metres of water to Te Hiku bulk water carriers. That compared to just 80 cubic metres the previous September.

Meanwhile, work on a second bore at Tokareireia (Monument Hill) in Kaikohe is progressing as planned. It is estimated the new, 120-metre deep bore could provide 900 cubic metres of water a day, although that volume would only be used if Wairoro Steam, Kaikohe’s primary water source, was running low. Drilling is nearing completion and testing to confirm flows and possible impacts on surrounding groundwater sources will begin this month. A noticeable, but necessary, part of the process to prove the bore will be test pumping. This will continue for a few days and should be completed by the middle of February.

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