$3.3m to re­place Te­muka pipe­line

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - ELENA MCPHEE

A 9.1 kilo­me­tre ce­ment trunk line at the cen­tre of an as­bestos scare in Te­muka will be re­placed by Easter at a cost of $3.3 mil­lion, the Ti­maru District Coun­cil has de­cided.

Mayor Da­mon Odey sug­gested dur­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing on Fri­day the re­place­ment of the pipe­line could be a blue­print for other coun­cils, which would soon have to face the ques­tion of what to do with their as­bestos pipes. He said he would rec­om­mend Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New Zealand used Te­muka as a case study.

‘‘Drink­ing wa­ter stan­dards and suit­abil­ity is a ma­jor topic,’’ Odey said.

‘‘We need to pro­vide some of our find­ings to the whole wa­ter sec­tor.’’

Ra­dio New Zealand re­ported in 2016 it would cost $2.2 bil­lion to re­place all as­bestos pipes in the coun­try in the next 20 to 30 years.

As­bestos pipes were put in through­out the Ti­maru District un­til about 1990, and the piece of pipe­line found to be re­spon­si­ble for as­bestos cir­cu­lat­ing in Te­muka’s wa­ter sup­ply dated from 1964.

Coun­cil­lors voted unan­i­mously to re­place the orig­i­nal 9.1km pipe­line with larger di­am­e­ter high den­sity poly­eth­yl­ene pipes.

Re­plac­ing the pipe­line be­came a mat­ter of ur­gency last year after as­bestos be­gan seep­ing into the wa­ter due to a pipe de­grad­ing, with a tem­po­rary fil­tra­tion plant in­stalled to con­trol the is­sue in mid-De­cem­ber.

On Fri­day coun­cil­lors ques­tioned whether some fi­nan­cial li­a­bil­ity should be borne by en­gi­neer­ing firm Opus In­ter­na­tional, which as­sessed the pipe­line in 2015.

Odey said it was of con­cern Opus had said the pipe­line could last for two decades, and he hoped other coun­cils around the coun­try would not find them­selves in the same boat.

Coun­cil­lor Kerry Stevens asked whether Opus could be asked to con­trib­ute to the coun­cil’s costs.

How­ever in­fra­struc­ture group man­ager Ash­ley Harper said he be­lieved there was noth­ing wrong with the work Opus had done for the coun­cil. His ini­tial re­ac­tion to its work was that it was ‘‘very com­pre­hen­sive’’ and the prob­lem was the coun­cil’s own pro­cesses.

‘‘The big­ger is­sue is are we sam­pling suf­fi­ciently?’’ he said.

There was only one sam­ple taken in 2015 from the main trunk line, fol­low­ing work on the Orari to Winch­ester pipe, and it was dif­fi­cult to sam­ple from a main pipe­line which was al­ways in use, Harper said.

Coun­cil­lor Steve Wills also sug­gested if it was the Gov­ern­ment which de­cided as­bestos pipes should be used in the 1960s, it should bear the cost.

How­ever Harper said all in­di­ca­tions so far were that de­ci­sions to lay the as­bestos ce­ment pipes in pre­vi­ous decades were made by the coun­cils of the time.

‘‘My un­der­stand­ing would be that the de­ci­sion-mak­ing was all lo­cally-based,’’ Harper said.

Harper said the line - which would pro­vide greater hy­draulic stor­age and ca­pac­ity to the town - would hope­fully be re­placed by Easter.

Wa­ter New Zealand tech­ni­cal man­ager Noel Roberts said he was un­aware of other coun­cils hav­ing the same prob­lem, but the rest of the coun­try was watch­ing Te­muka with in­ter­est.

He un­der­stood a cer­tain type of ground­wa­ter was mak­ing the pipe dis­solve quickly, he said.

Com­ment has been sought from Opus In­ter­na­tional about the cause of the pipe­line’s degra­da­tion.

Coun­cil­lors agreed on Fri­day the cost of re­plac­ing the Te­muka line would be funded through the coun­cil’s wa­ter de­pre­ci­a­tion fund and by money des­ig­nated to the $2.28m Te­muka reser­voir project.

Coun­cil­lor Paddy O’Reilly said he was con­cerned about the fiveyear de­lay of the Te­muka reser­voir, orig­i­nally planned for this year. The coun­cil­lors amended the rec­om­men­da­tions pro­vided by Harper to make the de­lay last for an un­spec­i­fied pe­riod of time in­stead. Dis­cus­sions about the reser­voir will be held dur­ing longterm plan de­lib­er­a­tions in Fe­bru­ary.

The coun­cil­lors also agreed to ret­ro­spec­tively ap­prove the cost of the emer­gency re­sponse, es­ti­mated to be about $200,000.

Harper sup­ported Stevens’ sug­ges­tion that stud­ies could be done on the old as­bestos line, which would re­main in the ground. ‘‘It’s a learn­ing sit­u­a­tion for all of us,’’ he said.

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