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The opening of the Waikari Basin Water Treatment Plant – Hurunui District Council

Delivering reliable and safe drinking water is testament to a successful relationship between a council and its community. 

The Waikari Basin Water Treatment Plant is a symbol of this.

Hawarden and Waikari townships initially sourced drinking water from a bore at Bakers Ford. As supply demand increased, the bore couldn’t keep up and a new bore was commissioned at the end of Bishells Road. The change is water supply meant the demand could be met for years to come and the water quality was very good. Within the Wakiari and Hawarden area, Council also had two other schemes, The Peaks and Upper Waitohi, both of which struggled to provide good quality water, especially during times of high river flows. This and with the increase in water demand and the changing regulations meant these schemes were becoming less likely to provide a satisfactory outcome for the users and the regulations. To ensure running costs were kept as affordable as possible and the best water usage was maximised, the Bishells bore was developed further and pipes interconnected with The Peaks and Upper Waitohi schemes to create a single scheme.

 Council’s Chief Executive Officer Hamish Dobbie addressed the group of locals who attended the Plant’s opening near Hawarden on Tuesday afternoon, emphasising this priority of Council. “The new single scheme creation was part of the innovative thinking to reduce water delivery costs to the community.”

With 18,571 metres of pipe in the ground, a 1 million litre reservoir, state of the art technology and infrastructure, and two large generators for emergency events, this Plant is a product of Hurunui District Council’s dedication and commitment to providing quality water and a reliable water delivery service to its community, while working alongside its community. 

Plans for the $4.4 million project began in 2014, provisions to allow for the upgrade to occur were added in the 2015 – 2025 Long Term Plan. The project took approximately 20 months to complete, in multiple stages spanning December 2021 to August 2023. 

The acquisition of a new water consent from Environment Canterbury has meant a guarantee of long-term water security for the community, even in the face of growing demand as the District’s population expands, and the increasing pressure from changing environmental conditions. 

“This plant has been built to meet the requirements of the latest drinking water standards, ensuring that the water provided to our community is of the highest quality,” said Dobbie, noting a recognition to New Zealand’s water regulator Taumata Arowai with whom Council has developed a collaborative working relationship.

“Establishment of the new compliance framework has played a key role in the design of the Plant.”

Council’s Water Safety, Design and Construction teams worked closely together to ensure an innovative approach was employed in the design, tailored to meet site-specific requirements. 

“This approach not only reduced equipment costs but also significantly accelerated the construction process, ensuring the plant’s swift completion.” said Dan Blair, Programme Delivery Manager. 

Mayor Marie Black expressed her gratitude to the landowners who graciously allowed Council to use their land to lay infrastructure, and the community for its trust, patience and collaboration. 

“This has all been instrumental in making this project a reality. We understand the importance of providing safe and clean drinking water to our community, and we are committed to upholding this responsibility,” said Mayor Black. 

The Plant was also a reflection of the high skill set in the Hurunui District, with many local businesses engaged in its delivery, local knowledge tapped into, and in-house design.”

“This has created jobs and fostered community growth.”


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