New water supply projects for drought-prone areas

Published on 03 September 2020

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Improving the drought-resilience of the district’s water supplies is the aim of a major capital works programme approved by the Far North District Council recently.

The Mayor and Councillors resolved in June 2019 to develop a bore site at Sweetwater near Awanui and pipe water 14km to the Council’s Kaitaia Water Treatment Plant in Okahu Road. Last month, they gave management the green light to proceed with the $14.15 million project. Staff are negotiating to buy land at a site where the Council owns a bore and has a resource consent to take 5,000 cubic metres a day from two production wells. The Council is also talking to property-owners along the proposed pipeline route with a view to obtaining easements. It hopes to begin construction of the bores and pipeline in November and complete physical works in mid-late 2021.

The Mayor and Councillors have also approved $2.1 million for drought-resilience works at the Council’s other water supplies. The funding includes $1.1 million to develop a new bore at Monument Hill in Kaikohe where there was an acute water shortage last summer. It also includes $150,000 to build a permanent weir at Kaitaia’s main water source, the Awanui River. The weir will raise the river level near the water treatment intake pipe, allowing the Council to draw water from the river when flows are low.

Council drought-resilience projects may benefit substantially from funding under the Government’s Three Waters Reform Programme. The Mayor and Councillors voted unanimously last month to join the initial phase of the programme in return for a share of $28 million for three waters infrastructure in Northland. The Council will get initial programme funding of $5.9 million and may receive further funds when Northland councils allocate funding for regional projects. Joining the reform programme at this stage only commits councils to share information about their drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and work with neighbouring councils to consider the creation of large-scale service delivery entities.

Mayor John Carter says securing permanent, supplementary water sources for Kaitaia and Kaikohe has been a top priority for the Council since last summer when record low rainfall in 2019 nearly left the towns without water. “The drought and the likelihood of further dry summers have underscored the need to develop new water sources for these towns. We cannot keep relying on the Awanui River and the Wairoro Stream to meet Kaitaia and Kaikohe’s water needs. I am proud of the Council for addressing these historic issues.” Mr Carter says the Council decided to join the Three Waters Reform Programme after agreeing that it was important for Far North communications to be included in the Government’s conversation on three waters reform. “All we are committing to at this stage is a conversation. We are not obliged to join future phases of the programme and our three waters infrastructure remains under our ownership and control.” 

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