Ruptured water mains
Over the last few days Waimate experienced a succession of burst water mains, resulting in water supplies being temporarily disrupted while repairs were made.
In five separate incidents, residents were without water for short periods of time and when the water supply was restored some discoloration occurred and we recommended that taps were turned on until the water ran clear.
These are unforeseen events and Council took immediate action by turning off the supply, informing affected customers through Facebook, door-knocking and Council’s website.
It’s inconvenient and disruptive and we’re grateful to you, our customers who have been patient while the repairs were made.
Each burst water main occurred at separate times and the repairs were made relatively quickly, and an investigation into why these faults were occurring is ongoing.
It’s no secret much of our infrastructure is old and therefore susceptible to leaks, fractures and breaks. We suspect that one of the reasons for the recent breaks in the water network was due to control valves being turned off to repair the first break which then highlights other weak points that also fail.
Council has been asked about the lack of investment in essential Infrastructure and yes, there has been, but this under-investment goes back a long way and occurs for many reasons. We can, however, get on top of our asset replacement requirements.
We have also been asked about the strong smell of chlorine after the repairs are made and this sometimes happens when we increase the disinfection levels or ‘shock-dose’ the water just in case nasty bugs got into the drinking water while the main was being repaired. This will settle down very quickly once normal flows are restored and will not cause any harm. Chlorine is added to the water supply specifically to protect residents when events such as these occur. They are often unpredictable and consequently this protection is necessary.
Council already has projects underway to replace and renew worn out assets and upgrade others. For example, we have replaced a section of the rising main to the town reservoir, and a new bore has been drilled at Manchesters Road to be matched with a new water filtration and treatment plant in the near future.
Upgrading the infrastructure
For the last six years we have been actively replacing water mains within the urban network and this work will continue in the future.
Over the next 10 years we have plans to upgrade a lot of our infrastructure so we have a compliant, reliable and safe water supply. We discussed this earlier this year when we were drafting our 10-year Long Term Plan.
We’re taking a prudent approach to our asset replacement and capital upgrades. It’s a lot of money and we want to make sure it’s done well without being too much of a financial burden on you, our ratepayers.
It’s possible we could still have some problems as we undertake this work. When we dig up old pipes and other infrastructure, we can’t be 100% certain what we’ll find and with that uncertainty there’s a risk of things going wrong.
To counter this, we’ll do our best to minimise the disruption while the infrastructure is upgraded in a considered and measured way.
Ultimately, however, we will have reliable infrastructure that will deliver drinking water that has the necessary protections to ensure it is safe to drink – something we all want.