The Press

Costly fix of Akaroa’s contaminat­ed water

- Tina Law

A temporary fix to Akaroa’s contaminat­ed water will cost the city council about $680,000 which Christchur­ch city councillor Phil Mauger believes the council could have avoided by keeping up with basic maintenanc­e.

Residents in the Banks Peninsula towns of Akaroa and Takamatua have had to boil their drinking water since February 12 after two dead possums and two birds were found inside the towns’ reservoir. Council staff said the animals gained access through a previously unknown overflow pipe, which has since been covered in mesh.

However, following a detailed inspection of the reservoir, staff also found a number of small openings between the iron cladding and concrete reservoir big enough for small animals to access. The council is now working to bypass the reservoir, so it can lift the boil water notice and empty the reservoir to fully inspect its condition.

Council three waters and waste head Helen Beaumont admitted yesterday, an inspection of the reservoir had identified a number of issues that could have been resolved through better maintenanc­e.

Akaroa’s water safety plan, which lays out guidelines the council must abide by, was approved in November by the drinking water assessor on behalf of the Ministry of Health.

At the time the council said residents of Akaroa and Takamatua could be ‘‘extra confident their drinking-water supply network was safe and secure’’.

Beaumont said 14 30,000-litre plastic tanks and associated piping would be installed near the reservoir over the coming days.

A constructi­on team is welding and laying about 200 metres of new piping to connect the water treatment plant to the tanks and the tanks to the water supply. This work was expected to cost between $350,000 and

$450,000. However, the 420 cubic metres of water storage would only provide sufficient water for

24 hours in winter and four to six hours on a warm summer’s day.

To ensure there is enough water to go around the council will also install another 1000 cubic metres of additional storage, either via more tanks or large plastic bladders.

The second stage of storage work would cost $200,000 to

$230,000, Beaumont said. The existing reservoir provides 2250 cubic metres of storage.

Beaumont said the council would be in a position to lift the boil water notice within a few weeks, but it was still too early to give an accurate timeframe. Staff were working as quickly as they could, she said.

A full inspection of the reservoir had yet to be completed, but Beaumont said it was almost certain replacing the reservoir would be cheaper than upgrading it, especially in light of stricter Government standards.

A total ban on outdoor water use was introduced in Akaroa, Takama¯ tua and Duvauchell­e this week. The level four restrictio­ns were put in place because the hot weather and critically low stream flows put extra pressure on water supplies.

Gardens can still be watered by using indoor water already run for washing vegetables, dishwashin­g or bathing.

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