$8.8M investment to upgrade Te Kūiti’s water supply infrastructure

6 Oct 2022, 3:25 PM

Waitomo District Council’s elected members have approved a multi-million dollar project to improve the security of Te Kūiti’s water supply infrastructure.

The project is worth an estimated $8.8M, and will be the second largest spend on three waters infrastructure over recent years.

In 2012, WDC spent about $11.8M upgrading Te Kūiti’s wastewater system, and between 2014-2018, a further $8.2M was spent on upgrading Te Kūiti’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP).

General Manager Infrastructure Services, Shyamal Ram says investigations into Te Kūiti’s water network were first reported in 2007, which identified both network and operational shortcomings, and the need for additional reservoirs in Te Kūiti.

However, the estimated cost for developing these reservoirs was prohibitive at the time, given there was priority to do other water and wastewater upgrades.

“The priority, at that time, moved from providing additional storage to upgrading all the water and wastewater treatment plants.  These upgrades were completed by 2018, and late last year, a project to find an alternative water source was unsuccessful,” says Shyamal.

“The need to review the resilience of Te Kūiti’s water supply infrastructure came to light again during the recent 2022 summer period, when water demand was at its highest and a burst on a major pipeline caused the reservoirs to drain rapidly, resulting in a critical water level being reached in Te Kūiti.

“The Water Treatment Plant managed to slowly restore levels over a period of days, however, this event highlighted the risk that the community faces with current water storage.”

Te Kūiti’s water reticulation is configured to supply the properties first, with excess treated water filling the Hospital Reservoir for later storage.

This results in some reservoirs taking several days to fill during high demand periods or after a major pipe burst, leaving the scheme in a vulnerable situation.

“By approving the project to improve the resilience of the Te Kūiti water supply, we can be confident that the issues will be resolved appropriately,” says Shyamal.

Works will include the construction of a new reservoir at the Hetet Reservoir; a new rising main from the WTP to the new reservoir; the installation of new high lift pumps at the WTP; and other necessary ancillary work, including earthquake assessment and strengthening of each reservoir.

The project will be financed by loan funding.

Shyamal says if the Three Waters Reform goes ahead, WDC’s three waters activities will be taken over by the new water entities from 1 July 2024.

Any three waters debt existing as at 1 July 2024 will be taken over by the new water entities.