Skip to main content

Emergency water supply for Westport takes shape

12 Apr 2024

A network of emergency water storage tanks is being established throughout Westport and Carters Beach to provide an alternative water source if severe weather events or other natural disasters cause disruption to the town’s water supply.

Low water clarity caused by silt in the source water (high turbidity levels) have interrupted Westport’s water treatment processes and supply in the past. Numerous slips in the water catchment after the February 2022 weather event contributed to this issue in the past.

Due to such events, the Westport water supply remains vulnerable to storm damage and other natural hazards, such as earthquakes.

Manager Infrastructure Delivery Eric de Boer says “Putting the emergency tank network into place will add much needed resilience to the town’s water supply. We have learned from the last big high turbidity interruption in November-December 2022 and are pleased that we now have a plan B in place.”

It is expected the emergency supply could be made fully operational within hours of a town supply outage.

The emergency water supply is a joint initiative between Buller District Council and Civil Defence and has been paid for through $80,000 of central government’s Better Off funding.

Mr de Boer says: “This emergency water storage will not eliminate the risk of water shortages or fix the water supply, however it is a solid alternative plan that will give the town (including Carter’s Beach and Snodgrass) approximately three days' supply in the event of an emergency or if the source water is unusable.”

Priority supply, and delivery where necessary, will be given to vulnerable populations such as those in pensioner housing and at O’Conor Home. Both Buller and Kawatiri Health facilities have their own emergency water supplies.

Some of the tanks have rainwater diverters for refilling, with others requiring transported water from the town supply or an alternative source. All emergency water will be subject to a boil water notice.

The network of an initial 12 tanks, with capacity varying between 10,000 and 30,000 litres is spread over accessible public venues and spaces, including schools, sports fields and commercial premises.

Several spare tanks are also held in storage, with the intention these can be transported to areas in need, e.g. Northern Buller, if necessary.

Residents are strongly encouraged to install their own supplementary water tanks on their properties if possible.

Mr de Boer emphasises “We are doing our bit, but everyone can chip in, and by installing your own supplementary rainwater tank, you can contribute to the community’s resilience. If 100 properties installed a 1,000-2,000-litre rainwater tank each, this would not only divert and reduce roof-collected storm water in the event of heavy rain, but also extend the town’s emergency supply an extra day by reducing demand.”

If you’re interested in installing your own tank at home, Mitre 10, Farmlands and the Red Barn are good places to start and it’s something that could easily be achieved on a small budget.


For further information please contact:
Eric de Boer
Manager Infrastructure Delivery