3 A Better Water Source?
We’ve got a lot of water infrastructure in the Clutha District. There are 11 rural water schemes in the Clutha District which provide water for stock, for rural businesses and for domestic consumption.
Two treatment plants, Evans Flat and Waitahuna, which source their water from the Waitahuna River and the Tuapeka River, need work. Neither plant is able to produce reliable water which meets national standards and they struggle to meet demand during summer. They are not reliable or resilient during heavy rainfall events.
This means users of these schemes that get their drinking water from these plants face water shortages and long-term boil water notices.
Option 1 Establish a new supply from the Clutha River
This is Council's preferred option.
We are proposing to build one new treatment plant that will source water from the Clutha River at Greenfield.
We would involve amalgamating the four water schemes (Balmoral 1, 2, Tuapeka East and West) into one and decommissioning the Evans Flat and Waitahuna plants.
We’re also proposing Lawrence town water scheme join this new water supply. Lawrence’s water currently comes from the historic Phoenix Dam, one of the oldest in the southern hemisphere. We are doing work to understand more about Phoenix Dam including its structural integrity during an possible earthquake. But a new source is likley to be a better long term option.
The proposed treatment plant would be easier to access and less complex to run. For example, access to the Waitahuna treatment plant is through people’s farms and is compromised during flooding because of its location.
While a single treatment plant would cost more to build than option 2, in the long term there would be savings from reduced operating costs.
This option could provide 25% (and possibly up to 50%) more water which would enable further growth in this part of the district. This plant would be expected to have an 80 year lifespan.
- Total cost of upgrade: $14.5 million.
- Annual operating cost: $1.6M million (over its 80 year life span).
- Water unit rate: $445.
Option 2 Continue to source water from the Waitahuna and Tuapeka rivers
The Waitahuna (on the Waitahuna River) and the Evans Flat (on the Tuapeka River) plants were built in the 1980s. These plants will need to be replaced to have the technology they need to meet national drinking water standards.
The life span of the new treatment plants would be 30 years. This option would produce the same amount of water as the plants currently produce.
The schemes which source their water from these two treatment plants are:
Balmoral 1, Balmoral 2, Tuapeka East and Tuapeka West. They would continue to operate as separate schemes.
- Total cost of upgrade: $7.5 million.
- Annual operating cost: $3.0 million (over its 30 year life span).
- Water unit rate: $650.
Changes ahead for Three Waters
Water is the lifeblood for our way of life, for our people, environment and economy. Wastewater and stormwater also play crucial parts. Combined these key services are referred to as Three-Waters.
A 2016 campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North made over 5,000 people ill and was linked to three deaths. The inquiry into the outbreak concluded New Zealand’s drinking water regulatory system was failing to provide necessary assurances that drinking water across the country is safe and reliable.
In 2019 Cabinet agreed to create a new water services regulator called Taumata Arowai. One of its roles is to enforce drinking water standards nationally. Its premise is that councils have the funding and support to get the balance right.
Council has signed a memorandum of understanding with Central Government and is taking part in the exploration of future service delivery options for water, sewerage and stormwater. The Government expects to make substantive decisions later in 2021.
Councils will be asked to consult with their communities in late 2021 as to whether they should join one of the new service delivery entities. We expect to consult with the community separately to this Long Term Plan in late 2021 once Central Government has made their decision and more facts are available.
For councils that participate in the reforms, the transfer of responsibilities and assets is likely to occur 2023/2024 onwards.
Our community needs three waters services regardless of whether Council delivers or not. On this basis we have included three waters in our financial and infrastructure strategies, including the Greenfield proposal, to present the community with a complete and accurate set of financial information for the medium-term and long-term financial impost. This has been considered as critical in our key assumptions. For more information on the Government reforms visit www.dia.govt.nz/three-waters-reforms-programme (external website).