More work yet on water supplies

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The Far North District Council is still investigating affordable, community-supported improvements to the public water supplies at Te Kao and Opononi-Omapere.

The council included $2.2 million in its long-term plan 2015-25 for improvements to an untreated water supply at Te Kao, and included $1.32 million to develop the Waimamaku River as a water source for its Opononi-Omapere supply, if a search for an underground source was unsuccessful.

In March the council proposed delaying works at Te Kao to ensure an affordable solution could be found with a working group and the wider community after a Ministry of Health subsidy was not forthcoming. It also wanted to explore community-supported options for making its supply at Opononi-Omapere more drought-resilient.

In adopting its annual plan 2016/17 earlier this month, it confirmed it would delay planned works, and would continue to work with the Te Kao and South Hokianga communities to find acceptable options.

General manager infrastructure and asset management, Jacqui Robson, said a household survey at Te Kao showed the community wanted a safe water supply as soon as possible. However, most weren't prepared to pay the annual cost of $1000 to fund a $2.2 million upgrade, so the council had deferred that work to 2017/18.

"We now have a clearer picture of how much the community is willing to pay for safe drinking water, " she said, adding that she was grateful to Te Runanga Nui o Te Aupouri for helping the council undertake the survey.

Council staff and a community working group would now spend the next four to six months developing a range of options, costs and funding mechanisms.

"This project is a good example of how the council is empowering communities to find solutions to community issues. Our role is to facilitate that process, and deliver the level of service the community is willing to pay for," Ms Robson added.

The council would also work with Opononi-Omapere residents, who had told the council it should make the existing water supply more efficient, and only develop a new source as a last resort.

Ms Robson said the constructive feedback would help the council develop its water conservation strategy.

- Northern Advocate

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