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Source: New Zealand Government

Up to $2 million will be allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund to set up temporary water supplies in Kaikohe and Kaitaia where drought is biting hard, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

Drought conditions in Northland have led to severe water shortages in parts of the region and town water supply is at risk, particularly in Kaikohe and Kaitaia, if there is no significant rain in the next few weeks.

“The cost of trucking water to these towns, where water use is restricted to only essential cooking, drinking and hygiene, is prohibitive,” Shane Jones said.

“A solution is to create the infrastructure to pipe water from a bore on Sweetwater Farm in the case of Kaitaia and from Lake Omapere in the case of Kaikohe.

“In both cases, the water will be pumped to the towns’ water treatment facilities before it is piped to households.”

Regional economic development ministers have agreed to release up to $2m from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), with the expected $400,000 balance of the cost to be met by Far North District Council. The projects will be led by former MPI director-general Martyn Dunne.

“We recognise that the operation of Sweetwater Farm will be disrupted as a result of laying pipes from its bore. Measures will be taken to minimise this. In the case of Lake Omapere, we know it is susceptible to water quality issues and it will be constantly monitored to ensure it remains healthy,” Shane Jones said.

“Without this water, industries across all sectors face having to scale back or halt operation. This project will ensure economic activity remains under way in Northland, one of the PGF’s surge regions. It also ensures that residents in these communities can continue their lives without significant hardship and disruption.”

Once the immediate water supply issues have been addressed, officials will work with the Northland councils to determine what is required to prevent a similar situation in future.

A significant step is the commitment of Far North District Council to contribute $1m to the PGF water storage project in Ngawha, close to Kaikohe. A similar commitment will be required to secure the water supply in Kaitaia.

Today’s announcement follows Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s move last week to classify the drought conditions in Northland as an adverse event for the primary sector, unlocking $80,000 in government support for farmers and growers.