Gisborne water crisis: pipe reconnected

By Debbie Gregory of the Gisborne Herald

A large landslide has caused major water pipe damage near Gisborne. Photo / Gisborne District Council
A large landslide has caused major water pipe damage near Gisborne. Photo / Gisborne District Council

Gisborne's main water pipe has been reconnected four days after it broke following work by Gisborne District Council staff and contractors from Fulton Hogan.

The pipeline, which feeds high quality water down from the Mangapoike Dams to the Waingake Treatment Plant, broke early on Tuesday morning.

Since then a major repair job has been underway with staff working round the clock to get the job done. The broken pipe was buried by 6m of material and had to be dug out.

Large quantities of dirt and vegetation were removed to unearth the pipe, extensive work was completed to stabilise the site and gazebos were erected so pipe welding could continue in the rain.

Council deputy chief executive Peter Higgs said the broken pipe had been joined but they were not out of the woods yet.

"The pipe is not ready for water at the moment. The area where the pipe broke is steep and has never been particularly stable due to extensive bush felling prior to 1940.

The area is regenerating.

"Trees were planted to increase stability but the risk of slips will always be an issue,'' Mr Higgs said.

"Piles are being entrenched into the steep slope. They will be used to support the pipe where the break occurred.

"Only then will we start testing the repairs by allowing a small amount of water to be gravity-fed down through the pipe. This is likely to happen early next week.

"We will continue testing the repaired pipe for the next 10 days starting with a flow of 200m3 per hour and building to full capacity (1000m3 per hour).

"Considering the scale of the repair and the dedication of staff and contractors working 24/7 we are happy with the speed with which this crisis is being resolved.

"It is just in time. With food processing starting full production next week, we will need all the water we can get,'' Mr Higgs said.

Gisborne people had again been "inspirational'' in their efforts to save water. Daily consumption to 8am today was down to 12,302m3 - well under the saving target despite no rain yesterday.

"We are very grateful for the magnificent water saving efforts of the Gisborne public,'' Mr Higgs said.

"With water consumption down by a third again yesterday, storage in the city reservoirs has increased.

"This means that water rationing is looking less likely and there will be no disruption to the district's major food processors.

"We have had examples of businesses volunteering to stop services that use a lot of water, many people contacting us with water saving tips, neighbours working together to ensure all in their area know about the water situation and don't use their hose.

"We will be meeting with the major industrial water users next week to thank them for their efforts and discuss how we can work together to meet our water usage targets.''

Water usage figures are likely to jump next week as food processors increase production. Gisborne residents and businesses need to be careful with water for the next 10 days and the hose ban will continue to the end of summer.

- The Gisborne Herald

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