Urgent water conservation needed Waitangi to Opua

Published on 18 July 2020

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Far North District Council is advising all households and businesses from Waitangi to Opua to dramatically reduce water consumption while emergency repairs are made to the Paihia Water Treatment Plant.

Debris and silt washed down the Waitangi River following 180mm of rainfall on Friday afternoon have damaged the plant’s river intake and submersible river pump. As a result, the Council is unable to treat raw water and is instead supplying treated water stored in its reservoirs. The reservoirs are currently sitting around 25 per cent full.

General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management, Andy Finch says it is vital that water consumption is reduced immediately to prevent the reservoirs from running dry. “We’re asking all households and businesses to defer non-essential water use. That means not washing clothes for at least 24 hours, taking shorter showers, and flushing less. Many people will also be keen to wash away debris from yesterday’s deluge, but I’m asking them to defer that work for now.”

He says contractors are working round the clock to get the Paihia Water Treatment Plant running again and the Council is using water tankers to replenish the reservoirs with treated water sourced from elsewhere in the District.

“That is helping, but the real solution is reducing water consumption until we can again get normal river flows through the treatment plant. At this stage we don’t know how long that will take,” Mr Finch says.

Northland Regional Council says the focus of yesterday’s downpour was on the Waitangi catchment area during the afternoon, before thunderstorms moved south to Whangarei overnight. It says that in two hours Whangarei received 88mm of rain, a one-in-one-hundred-year rainfall event.

Occasional thunderstorms are still affecting the Far North today, but the district is beginning to dry out. However, it will take some days for rivers, such as the Waitangi, to clear.

The Council is also advising all drivers to remain cautious when travelling, with many district road surfaces impacted by flash flooding, slips and fallen trees.

Mr Finch says the Council will keep residents and businesses advised on repairs to the Paihia Water Treatment Plant with updates posted on its website and Facebook page over the weekend. 

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