After the 2016 Havelock North water crisis and Board of Inquiry process, the Hastings District Council committed to providing safe resilient drinking water to our community as our number one priority.
To enable this to happen, we adopted a new Drinking Water Strategy in March 2018. Its prime objective is water quality and safety.
Our new strategy has meant we have embarked on our largest infrastructure project ever undertaken.
Back in 2016, we estimated the whole strategy would cost approximately $50 million. However, the scope of this whole project has changed and the implementation of the
strategy is costing more than we had anticipated, mainly due to the inclusion of additional community water supplies, increased contractor's costs, changes to sites for core infrastructure and improved data modelling and detailed designs.
We now estimate that we will spend around $58m.
No other local authority in New Zealand has undertaken a water infrastructure build project of this magnitude.
We are leading the way in this area and other cities and towns are closely watching
what we're doing.
In 19 months, our council has completed an enormous amount of work within this strategy.
We are well down the path to replacing the Brookvale bores and installing full treatment using UV and chlorine at all drinking water sources by 2021.
We have completed the new 4.8km Hastings to Havelock North water trunk main, which is a once-in-a-generation piece of infrastructure that has been designed to build resilience, capacity and improved safety into the district's water supply.
By the end of this year, the construction of the new water booster pump station in Havelock North will be finished which will improve water pressure.
By the middle of next year, our small urban water supplies will also have improved infrastructure and treatment.
We are a third of the way through our strategy and are now moving to a new phase.
This stage includes essential components to deliver not only safe drinking water but it will also give us a more resilient water supply and will help us better manage the huge demands on our water now and for the next 100 years.
This new stage includes the construction and operation of two new water treatment and storage facilities. We need water storage to give our community safe and efficient drinking water.
These facilities will provide enhanced protection, improve existing continuous online monitoring and control of source water. Water storage creates supply resilience, buffers peak demand, minimises drawdown on the aquifer and allows for more effective pressure management.
Through a detailed site selection process, we have identified the most efficient and effective locations for these two water storage facilities. The sites have to meet certain criteria - they should be as close as practicable to our existing water treatment infrastructure and be large enough to accommodate an approximate 12m high and 38m diameter reservoir.
We have recommended Frimley Park and the corner of Southampton and Hastings Sts, near the Hastings District Council administration building, as the best sites.
We respect that some of the community may have concerns around the locations of these facilities.
There will be full engagement and consultation before our final selection of these sites, and the resource consent applications will be fully notified so you will be able to have your say.
We have also explored ideas on how we could add value to the water storage infrastructure on Southampton St. The concept of "Water Central" is an idea – an "out of the box" value-added addition to the very basic treatment and storage infrastructure.
It may contain an attractive education facility (not a museum), which focuses on water in its entirety. This idea centres on showing the community the journey of our water from the ranges to the aquifer, to our pipes, and to your taps.
It will tell the cultural significance of our water as well. When presented with Water
Central in May this year, our council liked it and gave our staff the green light to explore the concept so long as it didn't have any financial impact on our ratepayers.
If progressed, this idea would be entirely funded by external sources (that is not ratepayer money).
We encourage and respect our staff for being innovative and thinking outside the square.
They have shown tremendous innovation and creativity in coming up with an idea to enhance a typically stark concrete water reservoir to provide a facility not seen anywhere else in the country.
You will be hearing a lot about our plans for water storage facilities in the coming months.
We are looking forward to having this conversation with you as we continue to deliver our community safe resilient drinking water.
Bruce Allan is Hastings District Council acting chief executive and chieffinancial officer