Essential use water restrictions in place for Westport
Buller District Council has today put in place an essential use water restriction order for the Westport and Carters Beach water supply.
Essential use means water can be used for drinking, food preparation, hygiene, and sanitary purposes only. There is a complete ban on any outdoor water use.
Manager infrastructure delivery Eric de Boer says: “Currently the water reservoir is under 49.4% which is our trigger point for essential use. Currently we are able to produce water, but it isn’t quite sufficient to meet the demand of the township.”
The Westport water supply is sourced from Giles Creek in the hills to the southwest of the town at the base of Mt Rochfort.
During the February 2022 rain events, there were significant slips within the catchment which resulted in the water becoming too turbid (dirty) to treat. In the last 30 days, the Westport catchment has received 515 mm of rain which has resulted in further slips in the intake. This has meant the catchment water has become too dirty to treat.
The water treatment plant generally requires water that is under 5 NTU (turbidity units) and due to these recent slips, the water from the creek has been 15 NTU at the lowest. As a result, Council has been unable to extract water from the intake.
There are several branches of the intake which have varying levels of turbidity. Council currently has set up a pumping system to allow for clean water to be abstracted, however the quantity available from this stream is insufficient to meet demand.
Council is currently exploring all other options to increase water take and with a fine weather period forecast for the next 5 days it will allow the main water intake stream to clean up.
Council staff is coordinating a response to manage reservoir levels over the coming days.
Contractors started pumping water into the intake at 6pm on Monday 28 November until 7pm Tuesday 28 November. The pumps were removed due to overnight rainfall. There was a small amount of pumping this morning until the pump was removed due to stream levels increasing. Once rainfall declines, Council expects to continue to pump treatable water into the reservoir later today.
Mr de Boer says:” Currently, Westport and Carters Beach is using 5,200 cubic metres of water each day. Restricting use to essential needs will hopefully slow down the depletion of the supply.
At current consumption this will provide Westport and Carters Beach with water for 6.7 days. However, this is without any water going through the intake. In recent days we have been able to pump at 45 L/s (demand is approx. 62 L/s) which is going some way to increase the amount of water going through the intake.
We are expecting to be able to at least hold reservoirs with a 5-day spell of clear weather coming through.”
Supply to Westport will be shut off from 9am – 3pm on Thursday 1 December while contractors repaired leaks in the trunkmain supply line to town. This is part of a concerted effort to prevent further losses.
Mr de Boer says contractors are also working on installing a new section along the Westport trunk main which is coming to a stage where it can be connected to the main trunk main. This is our most leak prone pipe and this replacement should see a reduction of water loss.
Essential use order will remain in place until storage levels have sufficiently recovered back up to 60%. Once this is reached the essential use order will be downscaled to restricted use to bring the water supply back to 80%.
“We are facing a number of challenges with our water infrastructure following the February 2022 weather event, but right now our primary focus is the supply of safe drinking water to the community,” Mr de Boer says.
If we all pitch in, we will be able to maintain our supply while we are working on a solution.”
further information please contact:
Manager Infrastructure Delivery
Eric de Boer