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Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contains a news story about school-kid Hughie Ponifasio and his super-interesting investigation in to the Whangarei Water Services.

Updated: 4/06/2020 3:00 p.m.

​A highlight for Whangārei’s Water Services Department during the COVID-19 period was the chance to make it memorable for seven-year-old Hughie Ponifasio from St Francis Xavier School.

The team has been battling the drought for many months this year, and were delighted by the following letter they received from Hughie. They responded with letters answering all his questions and invited him for a one-on-one tour of the Whau Valley Dam and treatment plant after lockdown.

They were also impressed by his slide show and detailed charts that showed how water is stored at the dam, processed, delivered as drinking water, then collected and processed as waste water.

Water Services Manager Andrew Venmore also liked his new title bestowed by Hughie, “The Dam Boss.”

Here’s Hughie’s letter:

Dear Water Scientists,

My name is Hughie, I’m 7 years old and I’m very interested in Whau valley dam. I normally go to St Francis Xavier school, but I’m at home on lock down.

I am working on a project about where the water in Whangārei goes after we use it. We visited the Kioreroa road walk ways & Whau valley dam. I also used google maps to zoom in for a closer satellite look at things. I have some questions for you.

I went on a walk at the Kioreroa road walk ways and ponds near Lime burners creek. I saw some little sucking hole/pipes in the pond – where does that water go? I also read about UV lights at the waste water treatment plant on your website. I would like to know where are the UV lights? What do they do and what do they look like?

We also went for a walk to Whau valley dam. What does the giant plug hole at Whau valley dam do? Where does it go? When was it last in use?

What are the gutter/drain things on the grassy sloping side of the Whau valley dam for?

How does the water get into and out of the dam?

(I couldn’t see those parts!) I thought maybe rivers in the bush partly fill the dam? The water isn’t high enough to reach the plug hole to let the water out, so maybe at the bottom of the tower something is sucking the water out? I could see the water moving there…

What is the weird metal mushroom shaped piece of equipment near the plug hole for, and why is it too dangerous for people to go on the bridge? (to the tower in the dam?)

Why are you building a new water treatment plant? We saw the construction site on the drive to the dam.

I was also worried that the dam was very empty. Thank you for your time reading this message, please answer my questions if you have time. 

Much appreciated,

From Hughie

If you would like to know the answer to Hughies’ questions, keep an eye on the Latest News on the front page of Council’s website.