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Emergency water planning for Westport underway

14 Apr 2023

Buller District Council has begun work on an emergency water plan in the event that Westport loses its water supply.

The Westport water catchment is becoming increasingly vulnerable to supply loss for short periods of time due to the continued damage from the February 2022 weather event.

That damage is made worse after each heavy rainfall.  This places the reliability of the Westport and Carters Beach water supply at risk.

The former head of Buller Flood Recovery Bob Dickson is leading the work to develop the emergency water plan.

Acting chief executive officer Rachel Townrow says we are fortunate to have been able to secure Bob onto our team with his immense knowledge and experience with the July 2021 and February 2022 floods, the immediate civil defence response and ongoing recovery.

“The plan will take into account alternative water supply sources that can be used during an emergency, what key agencies to be involved, accessibility of water for the elderly and medically vulnerable and consider the needs of businesses, emergency providers, schools and health providers. It will also factor in Westport water availability during other emergencies such as earthquakes,” says Rachel Townrow.

“Various options for emergency water provision are under investigation including the feasibility of tank farms within the town and reopening water bores to provide alternate raw water. Householders in Westport and Carters Beach can also play their part by considering installing water tanks on their property if feasible.

“It is important for the community to understand that this plan relates to emergencies, not everyday situations. As the plan takes shape over the coming weeks and various options for providing water that does not meet current drinking water standards, (non-potable water) are better understood, community briefings and key agency briefings will take place.”

“This work is recognition that we are seeing and experiencing further consequences of the severe weather events the district went through and unfortunately those consequences are not reducing. Council feels it is important for the community to know what risks exist and understand that we are working on emergency preparedness should that happen.”

The work aligns and supports other planning work being led by council across the Buller District.


Further information please contact:
Acting Chief Executive Officer
Rachel Townrow