Moves to make horticultural water available to Kaikohe residents

8:34 pm on 9 March 2020

Far North District Council is aiming to tap into new government-funded Kaikohe water storage to permanently supply the mid-north town.

Kaikohe's three 30,000 litre emergency water tanks.

Kaikohe's three 30,000 litre emergency water tanks. Photo: Northern Advocate

Far North District Council (FNDC) mayor John Carter said the council had already been working with Government and Northland Regional Council (NRC) on using the water from storage to be built in the North through the region's $30 million Provincial Growth Fund project.

Carter said FNDC wanted to set up a scheme like had been developed for Kerikeri in the 1980s. This had been developed with the dual purpose to permanently provide water for horticulture and Kerikeri township.

NRC is managing the government-funded project and identified land in the mid-north for water storage. Land around Kaikohe is part of the identified area. Kaikohe is currently days away from running out of water, which is being restricted to essential use only.

NRC said the water storage project was primarily designed for supporting horticulture but would also be available to help existing municipal water supplies and greatly reduce exposure to domestic water restrictions.

Carter said it was too early to say when water from the yet-to-be-built PGF-funded storage near Kaikohe would be available.

"But it can't come soon enough," he said.

Far North District Council Mayor John Carter

John Carter. Photo: Supplied

Kaikohe's water supply infrastructure was clearly inadequate, he said.

Kaikohe's water comes predominantly from the Wairoro Stream near the town's Taraire Hills water treatment plant. This supplies about 70 percent of the town's water. An aquifer at the town's Monument Hill reserve also supplies water.

Whangarei drinking water is to go north to fill the new 90,000 litres of newly-installed emergency water tank supply in Kaikohe. Fonterra tankers heading north from the company's Kauri plant to pick up Far North milk head north with Whangarei water and return south to the factory with milk.

Carter said the Kaikohe situation was the worse of the high district's two almost-dry towns, now both on the toughest level-four water restrictions.

The other is Kaitaia.

Three 30,000 litre emergency water supply tanks were installed in Kaitaia yesterday. These are the second 90,000 litre emergency water supply tanks in the Far North and Whangarei District Council water will also be fill these tanks.

Residents will be able to get water in containers from the tanks.

The identified water storage-suitable mid-north land also includes Ohaeawai and Waimate North.

Meanwhile, land south of Dargaville in Kaipara has also been identified for water storage as part of the $30m project.

Kaipara mayor Jason Smith said his council would also be looking to tap into his district's new water storage facility for municipal supplies to supplement Dargaville's existing Kaihu River supply.

Smith said Dargaville's water needs were increasing. The township was growing and Baylys Beach, which was also growing very rapidly, had now been added into the area it supplied municipal water to.

He said the water storage-sourced water was more likely to be tapped into for temporary emergencies rather than permanent use. Primary production would remain the main focus of water storage scheme use.

Smith said Dargaville's water supply infrastructure was adequate - if rain came. Kaipara has five water supplies - Dargaville, Glinks Gully, Ruawai, Maungaturoto and a small Mangawhai facility.

IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal said multi-purpose water storage had not been used widely across New Zealand.

"Municipal water supply hasn't been common in the past, however it has been done, it has been successful and is where we need to go in the future," Soal said.

The proposed Wairarapa water storage project at Wakamoekau, in conjunction with the Wellington regional economic development agency, is a multi use proposal. PGF $7m funding was announced towards this last month.

Soal said the Waimea dam currently being built in Tasman at the top of the South Island was to be used for urban and rural supply.

It is New Zealand's biggest dam build in the 20 years.

Soal said Canterbury's Opuha dam already provided water for Timaru in a multi-use scheme. Otago's Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company also already provided water for Oamaru in the same way.

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