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Preparation for the chlorination of Reefton’s water supply about to start

03 Apr 2023

Buller District Council’s project team is about to start work on preparing the Reefton water supply for the introduction of chlorine.

As a large water supply, Reefton is required to meet drinking water legislative requirements. This requires the supply to have residual disinfection (chlorine) unless an exemption is granted by Taumata Arowai. Due to the aged pipes and high leakage rates within the Reefton pipe network (reticulation), it is extremely unlikely that Reefton would be granted an exemption.  

Manager Infrastructure Delivery Eric de Boer says: “Following about 6-8 weeks of preliminary work, we expect permanent chlorination to be in place by mid May to early June 2023.”

“We are aware that this is a topic of interest for people in Reefton and surrounds who are affected by this change, and for some it might be an unwelcome development. It is important to note our priority is to provide safe drinking water to the community. The law dictates how we do that.”

Council is planning for the system to be put in place in four phases:  

  • Flushing – pushing water through the pipes to clear them of build-up of slime and any metal deposits that may exist. This happens regularly now but will increase prior to implementation. This is expected to start in April 2023.
  • Installation and commissioning – installing and testing new equipment at the existing Water Treatment Plant.
  • Operations – trialling the equipment for short periods of time to gauge its effectiveness and identify any issues. 
  • Go live – permanent chlorination of the Reefton water supply. 

Timeframes will be communicated to the Reefton community as the project progresses through the different phases.

Mr de Boer says: “We are aware people will want to understand why, what, how and when their water is being chlorinated. We have prepared a range of ways for the community to access detailed information and asked questions. A letter has been sent to Reefton letterboxes, businesses and P.O Boxes providing an update between Monday 3 April and Saturday 8 April”.

Mr de Boer says: “We are inviting residents to a Community Meeting on the 12 April 2023, 5.30pm at the Reefton Cinema. Mayor Jamie Cleine and representatives of the project team will be there to explain the process and answer questions.

The meeting will be livestreamed on Council’s Youtube channel for anyone who can’t make it in person

Mr de Boer says: “We encourage Reefton residents to use the information available on Council's website, at the Reefton Visitor and Service Centre and on social media to understand what will happen in the coming weeks.”

Chlorination is a legal requirement and no further consultation regarding whether or not to chlorinate will be undertaken. 

A regular newsletter will be distributed via email, and for collection at the Reefton Visitor and Service Centre.  People can subscribe for the newsletter by signing up to Buller District Council’s email list online by selecting Reefton.

Updates on progress, timeframes and any other relevant information on the project will be posted on the Reefton Water Facebook page, with major updates on Buller District Council’s Facebook page, and website -

Comprehensive FAQs are available on the Buller District Council website under Key Projects/Reefton water supply upgrade

If residents want to contact the project team, please email with the subject Reefton chlorination. Staff at the Reefton Visitor and Service centre will have copies of the letter, Frequently Asked Questions and newsletters as they are published.


Issues with the safety of Reefton’s water supply were identified a number of years ago, resulting in a programme of work to improve the safety and reliability of the system. It is currently under a precautionary boil water notice. 

The Reefton Water Supply Improvements were one of the key projects in Buller District Council’s Draft Annual Plan 2020/21. These improvements include: 

  • the realignment and replacement of the rising and falling main (complete) 
  • securing the integrity of the treated water reservoir (complete)
  • the provision of residual disinfection (chlorination) (now under way) 

Once Reefton is chlorinated, the precautionary boil water notice which was required by Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha (formerly Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) can be removed.  


further information please contact:
Manager Infrastructure Delivery
Eric de Boer