A site blessing was held on Friday prior to work commencing on the new water treatment plant to be built on Cardiff Road.
Mayor Neil Volzke, councillors and Stratford District Council staff were present along with contractors and consultants involved with the project.
The blessing was carried out by Hemi Haddon with support from Whakaahurangi whanui in a dawn ceremony.
The completed plant will provide water to Stratford by mid to late September, says Sven Hanne, Stratford District Council's director of assets.
He adds that the project is expected to be delivered at a price tag sitting at about $800,000 below the original budget of $7.5 million thanks to a competitive market.
The project entails the construction of a new treatment plant building, a new water reservoir and a completely new treatment process.
While the old plant used sand filters the new plant is a membrane plant. Sven explains that membrane treatment significantly "reduces the use of chemicals in the treatment process and avoids contaminants entering the public water supply that would get through conventional sand filters".
The need for a new plant is driven by the introduction of the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2008 which had a major effect on drinking water suppliers.
The timeframes for the other two treatment plants in the district to be upgraded is Midhirst by 31 June 2014 and Toko by 31 June 2015. The replacement of the Midhirst plant is eligible for a Ministry of Health subsidy which will cover approximately half of the cost.
The new reservoir is necessary as the old one has been assessed as not earthquake proof, causing concern that the community would be without water in the event of a natural disaster. While not earthquake proof, the existing reservoir will be retained to give Stratford greater resilience and storage capacity. The location and design of the new reservoir and plant ensures that failure or collapse of the old reservoir would not affect the new plant or reservoir. The old reservoir holds four-and-a-half million litres, which is approximately one day's supply for Stratford, the new one is slightly bigger at six million litres and adds another day redundancy in the event of any electrical or mechanical failure at the plant, power outage or stream conditions that prevent it from being treated, such as a landslide in the upper catchment or any untreatable contamination. In addition to that it also gives plant operators the ability to take one of the reservoirs off line for cleaning, repairs and maintenance.