Con­serv­ing pre­cious wa­ter

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

This week wa­ter sup­ply re­stric­tions are be­ing lifted across the dis­trict, in re­sponse to con­sis­tent rain­fall im­prov­ing both river flows and soil mois­ture lev­els.

Thank­fully we did not ex­pe­ri­ence a full­blown drought this sum­mer, but con­di­tions have been dry across much of the Far North. As early as Oc­to­ber river and soil mois­ture lev­els were in de­cline. Ac­cord­ing to Niwa, even now soil mois­ture in the very Far North re­mains lower than nor­mal, par­tic­u­larly on Aupo¯uri Penin­sula. This has prompted the or­gan­i­sa­tion to name the penin­su­lar a soil mois­ture ‘hot spot’ for May 2019.

This weather put our streams, rivers and ground wa­ter sources un­der pres­sure, forc­ing the coun­cil to in­tro­duce Level 3 re­stric­tions on four of our wa­ter sup­plies. RaweneO­manaia, Opononi-O¯ma¯pere, Kaiko­heN­gawha and Kawakawa-Mo­erewa all faced bans on sprin­klers and hoses. Level 2 sprin­kler bans were also ap­plied to the Kaitaia, and Kerik­er­iWaipapa sup­plies.

It was un­usual for Kaikohe to face Level 3 re­stric­tions. Its wa­ter sup­ply is nor­mally very re­silient. How­ever, forestry work in the area had sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased sed­i­ment lev­els in the Wairoro Stream catch­ment, the town’s pri­mary wa­ter source, mean­ing vol­umes that could be fil­tered at the Taraire Hills wa­ter treat­ment plant were sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced. To com­pen­sate we took more raw wa­ter from our bore at Mon­u­ment Hill. Un­for­tu­nately, this in­creased re­liance on our se­condary sup­ply meant un­der­ground aquifer lev­els be­came de­pleted. As a re­sult, both Ko­tahi­tanga Marae and Kaikohe’s his­toric Aper­a­hama Church, which rely on the same aquifer, faced the prospect of their spring run­ning dry.

The peo­ple of Kaikohe ral­lied fol­low­ing calls from the coun­cil and Waikotihe Trust, the kaiti­aki of the spring, to cut wa­ter con­sump­tion. Be­cause of this com­mu­nity ef­fort the spring con­tin­ued to flow over sum­mer, and the aquifer is now show­ing signs of re­cov­er­ing.

Across the dis­trict the coun­cil is work­ing hard to im­prove the re­silience of its wa­ter sup­plies. In Kaikohe we aim to in­crease ca­pac­ity at the Taraire Hills plant and so re­duce re­liance on the aquifer, and in the Hokianga our most sen­si­tive sup­plies are also be­ing im­proved. We are due to com­plete a new $2.8 mil­lion wa­ter treat­ment plant for Omanaia and Rawene in Au­gust, while we hope a new bore at Smoothy Rd will in­crease raw wa­ter sup­plies for Opononi and O¯ ma¯ pere res­i­dents.

In Kaitaia we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing new ex­trac­tion op­tions from the Aupo¯uri aquifer, and step­ping up a pro­gramme to iden­tify and re­pair leaks in the town’s retic­u­la­tion sys­tem. Sim­i­lar leak iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grammes will be un­der­taken at our other wa­ter sup­ply schemes.

It is cru­cial that we im­prove the re­silience of our wa­ter sup­plies. Just as im­por­tant is for all of us to re­duce con­sump­tion. Kaikohe res­i­dents have demon­strated just how ef­fec­tive re­duc­ing de­mand can be, and I want to ac­knowl­edge and thank them for their ef­forts through­out the sum­mer.

"Kaikohe res­i­dents have demon­strated just how ef­fec­tive re­duc­ing de­mand can be, and I want to ac­knowl­edge and thank them for their ef­forts through­out the sum­mer."

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