Source: Whangarei District Council
Updated: 8/06/2020 9:02 a.m.
COVID-19 Alert Level 2 might have meant some things returned to normal in the District, but there is nothing normal about the water situation.
Council’s Water Department is bracing for a dry winter, leading to a very difficult situation next summer, and doing all they can to soften the blow before it hits.
Work has already begun on upgrading the pipe that takes water from the Hatea River, to ensure the maximum amount of water allowed under Regional Council Resource Consent Conditions can be taken, processed and supplied, instead of using the water in Whau Valley Dam.
Work has also begun on a new emergency pipeline that could take water from the Wairua River in certain situations.
These two measures will help take the pressure off Whau Valley Dam and let the water level recover, following which it could be reserved and used only when rivers start to get low again.
“The resource consent aims to make sure the rivers stay above a certain height so the ecosystems in and around them are unharmed.
“Due to the low levels of the river we have been taking significantly less than the consent allows. When the levels are higher, we want to increase what we take up to nearer our consent level – that way we can continue to preserve the ecosystems, reduce draw on the dam, and maybe let the dam recover a bit more before the next dry summer.
The Leak Detection Team at Downers has found and stopped leaks that have saved the District around 200 kilolitres a day.
“These leaks are typically caused by aging infrastructure, ground movement or occasionally by damage to water mains and meter by the installation of other services. They do not show themselves on the surface and can go undetected for years if not found using specialist equipment and expertise,” said Distribution Engineer David Drummond.
“Downers have been doing everything they can to find and stop these leaks, deploying a leak detection specialist.
“As the ground dries out during this, the driest year in decades, it puts extra stress on the pipes, and we expected to see more leaks than usual.
In April Downer found 11 hidden leaks, repaired 8 Large bursts and 79 other medium and small leaks in our water reticulation pipelines. These were reported by staff or the public to our call centre.
“We appreciate every call we get about a suspected leak. It is much better to get several calls about a possible leak than get none and have water drain away for nothing. The public are our eyes an ears in this situation and we rely on them.”