Green light for major water project

15 August 2017
Waipa District Council

Preliminary work will begin in earnest within the next month to upgrade Te Awamutu's water supply.

In Te Awamutu, the Council struggles to supply enough water during summer. Water currently comes from the Mangauika Stream on Mt Pirongia and an underground bore on Frontier Road.  

Under its resource conditions from the Waikato Regional Council, Waipa is restricted as to how much water it can take from the stream and will be restricted even further by 2030. Given growth predicted for the town and dry summers, Te Awamutu needs more water now.

At a Service Delivery Committee meeting this morning, councillors brought forward a $500,000 spend to begin an upgrade of the Parallel Road water treatment plant, take water from the Waikato River and pump the treated water to Te Awamutu.

The project, which was first outlined and budgeted in the Council's 2015-25 10-Year Plan, is expected to meet Te Awamutu's fresh water needs for the next 30 years. It will provide a resilient long-term water supply, enable growth and when complete, will address taste and odour issues.

Council held off pressing go on the project until it had exhausted a search for new water for the town via bores.  Despite sinking five bores, only two sources of quality bore water were found, one at Frontier Road and the other at Taylor's Hill. The Taylor's Hill bore has not been fully commissioned but test results show it can only service around 1,500 properties. That's not enough water to keep up with Te Awamutu's projected growth.

At today's meeting, councillors agreed to release funds to allow initial design and land negotiations to begin. The new supply could be up and running by 2020, depending on the outcome of the 2018-28 10-Year Plan. The total project is expected to cost around $25 million. 

This morning's meeting heard that staff and independent consultants had considered nine different options to source water, including challenging the existing regional council resource consent. Based on a range of factors including cost, resilience of supply, projected growth, technical and regulatory compliance and timing, this solution was judged best.

The project will also end seasonal taste and odour issues which, depending on weather conditions, can impact on Pirongia and Te Awamutu for a few weeks each year. However, these issues would not be resolved until 2020.  Councillors were advised that taste and odour issues could be resolved 12 months earlier, but at an additional cost of $3 million.