Water from Lake Ōmāpere is not yet being used to supplement Kaikohe's stretched town supply even though pipes and pumps have been in place for more than a month.

The hold-up is understood to be due to delays in getting treated water from the lake, which is prone to toxic algal blooms, approved for human consumption.

Last week the Advocate was getting conflicting answers about the delay.

On April 9 the Far North District Council said final testing had been undertaken and an application to use the water had been lodged with the Northland District Health Board.


That same day, however, the health board said it not yet received an application.

That was later explained as an IT glitch with the emailed file being too big to get past the health board's servers. It was resent later that day with council infrastructure manager Andy Finch saying he expected approval to be straightforward.

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The council had, however, expected to gain sign-off from the health board almost a month ago.

A council spokesman was quoted on March 13 as saying the pump and pipeline installed at the lake a week earlier were operational, and the council had finalised a solution for treating the water.

"We anticipate gaining sign-off from the district health board ... early next week, and are hopeful we can then start using the water," the spokesman said.

Far North mayor John Carter said water testing had raised a number of issues, not least smell, which had delayed the project.

''It stank. It was off the scale,'' Carter said.


''No one was going to drink it so we had to install more equipment to deal with that. We kept in touch with the district health board throughout that process.''

Far North mayor John Carter and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor discuss the drought at Lake Ōmāpere last month. Photo / Supplied
Far North mayor John Carter and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor discuss the drought at Lake Ōmāpere last month. Photo / Supplied

The council reached an agreement last month with Lake Ōmāpere Trust and the Omāpere Taraire E Rangihamama X3A Ahuwhenua Trust to access and use lake water. Both the lake and farmland crossed by the 2.8km emergency pipeline are iwi-owned. The pipe was provided by Marsden Pt Industrial Fire Brigade.

Finch said the council was continuing to investigate other water sources for Kaikohe and to establish a second, deeper bore at Monument Hill.

Kaikohe, along with Kaitaia, Kawakawa-Moerewa and Rawene, remains on Level 4 water restrictions which ban all but essential use.

Meanwhile, an alternative supply in Kaitaia has been up and running since March 23.

Water from an irrigation system on Sweetwater Farms, owned by Te Rarawa and Ngāi Takoto iwi, is pumped 4km to Kaitaia's Okahu Rd treatment station where it is blended with water from the Awanui River. The council can take 1500cu m of water a day for 100 days.

A second emergency supply for Kaitaia, however, is facing technical difficulties.

Water from a council-owned bore was to have been used to supply a tanker-filling station on Bird Rd, Awanui, but in that case high silica levels in the water mean the on-site treatment plant has to be modified.

That was expected to resolved by April 24, Finch said.