Runanga Water Supply Update

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2020-03-05T08:33:00 Pacific/Auckland

Update - 5 March 2020

Council has issued a press release with an update on the Runanga water supply project. A summary of the main points follows and you can read the full press release below.

  • Council cannot operate the Runanga scheme without an approved Water Safety Plan.
  • The Ministry of Health has given a clear indication that any plan that does not include chlorination will be most unlikely to be approved.
  • The Runanga water quality issue will be considered by Council at its meeting on 9 March 2020. Runanga will continue to be fed water from the Greymouth chlorinated supply in the interim.
  • Let’s not forget the importance of safe, healthy water. Havelock-North has shown that infected water can kill! The challenge for Council is how best to provide safe water.

Press Release - 5 March 2020

RUNANGA WATER SUPPLY UPDATE

Council is committed to provide safe, potable, quality water to consumers. Against this backdrop, Council must comply with the national Drinking Water Standards and other legislative requirements, including functioning within approved Water Safety Plans. In relation to the Greymouth supply, chlorination has been used as a protective measure for many years amidst a range of risk factors related to the scheme that cannot be mitigated other than by means of significant capital investment. The levels of chlorination in the drinking water tends to be towards the lower end of the scale.

Consumers in the Runanga supply area have expressed the wish to not have chlorine in their water during previous consultation. Council respected this wish despite having advised that community that such an arrangement may not be sustainable. On that basis, Council has constructed a stand-alone water scheme for that area, making use of different treatment technologies to ensure the water is safe. The scheme complies with drinking water standards at source but does not comply in relation to its distribution due to the potential for secondary contamination, i.e. by means of groundwater intrusion in low-pressure situations (related to an old distribution network) and from reverse contamination, i.e. through household taps.

Council cannot operate the Runanga scheme without an approved Water Safety Plan. Against the background of the system risks as outlined, to achieve an operative Water Safety Plan, Council offered a more regular quality monitoring regime (at a significant additional cost) as a means of detecting any contamination combined with immediate chlorination when contamination is detected, as mitigation. This was not acceptable to the Crown Agency and a Water Safety Plan has been declined.

Council, as a means of obtaining a Water Safety Plan, has, in the meantime, agreed to chlorination on a temporary basis whilst other mitigation measures are being investigated. The cost of these (some $4.5 million) appear unaffordable, especially given that it provides no guarantee of being acceptable as mitigation. However, the Crown Agency has given a clear indication that any mitigation that does not include chlorination will be most unlikely to be approved. The new scheme cannot be made operational until a chlorination capability is added, at a cost of $85,000.

Whilst the above certainly provides a good indication of what is likely to be the outcome of the issue, a much more important occurrence of late may well determine the matter. The Minister for Local Government, as an outcome of Havelock-North, earlier announced her intentions to put the management of the Three Waters (Water Supply, Stormwater and Sewerage) under three to five regional, commercial water bodies. This would not only mean that local authorities would no longer be Water Supply agencies but would also involve a more uniform focus on water quality with decisions as to what constitutes good quality water taken by these commercial bodies.

The Minister is now in the process of giving effect to the intentions by:

  • Taumata Arowhai – The Water Services Regulator Bill was introduced to Parliament and the executive structure is being put in place. The focus on quality and efficiency is under way.
  • A Cabinet Paper on Three Waters has been announced, outlining the reality that significant changes in the management and quality of water can be expected this year, with evidence of regional cooperation and quality improvement expected to be in place by year-end.

The Runanga water quality issue will be considered by Council at its meeting on 9 March 2020. Whichever option Council considers will see chlorination continue, either temporarily or permanently. This is not Council’s preference, but rather the reality position that faces Council in this.

Let’s not forget the importance of safe, healthy water. Havelock-North has shown that infected water can kill! The challenge for Council is how best to provide safe water.

ENDS

Update - 17 December 2018

During October and November 2018 Council polled the community on how they wished the contract shortfall to be funded – an amount of approximately $435,000. Two funding options were presented to the community – use money from the Runanga Area Infrastructure Fund or a rates increase of not more than $100 per annum.

The results from the poll are as follows:

RETURNS

  • Voting documents issued: 843
  • Voting documents returned: 280
  • Return rate = 33.21%

PREFERENCE

  • Votes in favour of using the Infrastructure Fund: 248
  • Votes not in favour of using the Infrastructure Fund: 32
  • % in favour of Infrastructure Fund = 88.57%

At its meeting on 12 December 2018 Council noted the community’s preference for the funding shortfall to come from the Runanga Area Infrastructure Fund. It approved this funding and has since awarded the tender for Stage 4 of the Runanga Water Renewal & Upgrade project.

Works will commence off-site in January 2019. The plant is being fabricated off-site and will be transported to site once complete so people may see limited or no on-site construction for a few months. An approximate timeframe is still be to be advised by the contractor.

Update - 10 October 2018

Stages 1 to 3 of the Runanga Water Treatment Plan project are now complete. Stage 4 (civil works for the construction of the new treatment plant building and associated equipment) has been tendered. Only one tender was received and the price was considerably higher than anticipated.

The preferred tenderer has indicated that it can provide a revised price based on design changes and Council is working on reduced detailed designs on an urgent basis so that a firm tender price can be obtained. However, even with this reduction, there will be a funding shortfall of approximately $435,000 (which incorporates the contract shortfall and all costs spent up to now).

Council is now consulting with ratepayers to find out the community’s preferred option to fund this shortfall to allow the final stage of the Runanga Water Treatment Plant project to be completed - an increase in the targeted rate for water supply or use monies from the Runanga Area Infrastructure Fund. Consultation documents are being posted this week.

Council is mindful of wanting to avoid the Runanga community having to use chlorinated water any longer than what is absolutely necessary, given they voted for an un-chlorinated supply. However, as new detailed designs have to be developed to enable a firm and reduced tender price, this has pushed the estimated completion date out. We are now anticipating the new plant will not be commissioned and operational until around mid-2019. Runanga will remain connected to the Greymouth water supply until this time.

Update - April 2018

Council is about to start Stage 2 of the Runanga Water Supply upgrade. The current water bores are old, there is no treatment protection in place and they are prone to flooding, which can contaminate the water supply.

The next phase of works will involve excavating around the existing bores, which creates a risk of introducing contaminants to the current water supply (which does not currently have any treatment protection).

Temporary connection of Runanga Water Supply to Greymouth Water Supply - Thursday 26 April 2018

To ensure consumers are provided with safe drinking water, the Runanga Water Supply will be temporarily connected to the Greymouth Water Supply while the rest of the upgrade works are carried out. This will take effect from Thursday 26 April 2018 and will remain in place until the project is completed and the new treatment plant is commissioned (likely to be around September this year). Note: The Greymouth supply is chlorinated.

By the end of the project Runanga consumers will have an upgraded water supply which will consist of two new source water bores (above the flood level) and new treatment plant (with filtration, ultra violet disinfection and pH correction).

Please read the full press release below and if you have any questions, please contact us on 03 769 8611 or email info@greydc.govt.nz.

Press Release: Upgrade of Runanga Water Supply

Issued 20 April 2018

Works are soon to commence on the upgrade of the Runanga Water Treatment Plant. Planning for this project has been lengthy and complex and also involved securing central government funding to make the upgrade financially viable for the community.

The current water bores are old, there is no treatment protection in place and they are prone to flooding, which can introduce contaminants to the water supply. The new treatment plant for the Runanga Water Supply will consist of two new source water bores (lifted above the flood level), filtration, ultra violet disinfection and pH correction.

The project has been split into four stages:

  • Stage 1 - Installation of a pipeline for temporary connection to the Greymouth Water Supply
  • Stage 2 - Earthworks including the permanent capping of existing source water bores
  • Stage 3 - Installation of new source water bores
  • Stage 4 - Construction of the new treatment plant building and associated equipment

Stage 1 was completed prior to Christmas and Stage 2 earthworks will commence on Monday 30 April 2018. All going well, the overall project will be completed around September this year.

Earthworks for this project will require excavating around the existing bores – this increases the risk of contamination getting into the water supply. This a problem as there is currently no treatment protection through the existing Runanga plant to reduce the increased contamination risk. Therefore, to provide a safe drinking water supply to Runanga consumers which is compliant with drinking water standards of New Zealand, Council will be connecting the Runanga Water Supply to the Greymouth Water Supply on a temporary basis. This will start on Thursday 26 April 2018 and continue until the project is complete and the new treatment plant is commissioned (due to be around September). The temporary Runanga Water Supply water source from the Greymouth Water Supply will be chlorinated.

Council has discussed this matter with the Ministry of Health and both parties are in support of the temporary connection to the Greymouth Water Supply as the risk of contamination to the existing bores at the Runanga Water Treatment Plant is too great. We appreciate that this may cause an inconvenience or disturbance to some people, however the short term inconvenience allows for a best possible long term solution with new water bores and new treatment plant for Runanga consumers, whilst also providing a safe drinking water source in the interim.

In the lead up to the changeover on Thursday 26 April 2018, mains flushing will take place in all areas of Coal Creek, Runanga, Dunollie and Rapahoe. Chlorine might be noticeable at the beginning of the treatment process but the taste will become less noticeable the further away from the treatment plant you are. The chlorine may react with organic content in the pipes and dislodge it. That could result in some harmless organic matter coming through your taps after the initial treatment dose. The water should clear, though, once the tap has been run for a few minutes.

If you are concerned about the chlorine taste, you can:

  • Keep drinking water in a jug in the fridge. The chlorine taste will dissipate naturally over a few hours.
  • Install a water filter. Chlorine and any associated by-products can be removed by using a granulated, activated carbon (GAC) filter. These are available from hardware supplies stores and water filter companies.

Consumers should call Council on 03 769 8611 to log any issues so they can be monitored closely by staff during the temporary supply period.

ENDS

Page reviewed: 05 Mar 2020 8:33am