The cost of building Kaitaia's drinking water resilience has climbed to $16.7 million.
That's almost 6.5 times more than the $2.6 million Far North District Council (FNDC) originally spent developing the Sweetwater project when it started work on it about seven years ago.
And it's about 50 per cent more than the council's most recent $11.3 million estimate for Sweetwater water resilience efforts.
Kaitaia had strict water restrictions imposed this year after the sixth drought in nine years hit the region, and the Awanui River - the town's main supply - got to record low levels.
The council wants to get up to 5 million litres of water daily from Aupouri aquifer at Sweetwater, about 15km northwest of Kaitaia, to the town.
A June FNDC meeting project progress monitoring report said the project was initially forecast to be $11.3m.
A council spokesperson said later this figure was an initial estimate before detailed costings had been done.
FNDC applied for $16.7m PGF money in April. The application was released by FNDC to the Northern Advocate after an Official Information Act request.
There has been no public announcement about the application outcome, work on the project described by the council last month as still being in the planning stages.
Andrea Panther, Kaitaia Business Association chairwoman, said the project cost increase was of concern for cash-strapped ratepayers.
"We have a low percentage of people [around the district] who pay rates. Any time there is an increase in rates, it hurts," Panther said.
She said however, although the increase was of concern, it was a "necessary evil" to ensure business could continue during droughts and future growth could take place.
The June monitoring report said the council had allocated $11.3m to the project in its long term plan versus the now updated $16.7m price tag.
FNDC said in the report it would look at how to fund the project through its next long term planning process if PGF money did not come through.
The Sweetwater infrastructure project near Waipapakauri on Ninety Mile Beach, started nearly a decade ago on land offered to the council after a 2010 drought. FNDC has had water-take resource consent since 2012.
The scheme will pipe water across private land from bores on Tony Hayward's property about 5km from Waipapakauri, to Kaitaia's main water treatment plant in Bonnetts Rd.
FNDC wants to build three months' resilience into the town's drinking water supply by providing 100 days of water from the bores for more than 5000 Kaitaia people and businesses. The Sweetwater scheme's up to 5 million litres of water a day roughly doubles the town's current daily use.
The council's PGF application said the scheme was necessary to supplement Kaitaia's water supply during drought.
"The Awanui River no longer provides an adequate level of resilience as the primary source of water for Kaitaia," it said.
Other aims were a potential reticulated water supply to Awanui and future local development.
The plan involves two water bores deep underground, building a site access road, onsite infrastructure to pump, store and process the water as well as extra receiving infrastructure at the Kaitaia water treatment plant. Land will be bought at the bore site.
It will turn the first of two bores at Hayward's from a temporary emergency water source to a permanent provider. This 2011 council-owned bore was reactivated for Kaitaia during the district's latest drought and connected to a portable treatment plant supplied by Auckland's Watercare. The second bore will be new.
Water will be pumped 14.2km through 300ml mains pressure pipe across private land.
The application said six property easements were needed, to be negotiated under the Public Works Act.
FNDC recently said negotiations with affected landowners were 'well under way' and compulsory acquisition was unlikely. Easement land valuations are part of that negotiation.
The April PGF application said detailed design work was scheduled to start that month, buying labour and resources in July and construction at the end of October.