Martinborough water supply – preparations for permanent chlorination

30 July 2019

The Council is planning to install a manganese extraction plant this summer in an important step towards providing clean, clear, safe and secure drinking water to Martinborough, for the long term.

This follows two separate boil water notices issued earlier this year when Martinborough town water supply tested positive for E. coli.

Chlorination is included in a multi-barrier approach to protecting drinking water supplies across New Zealand, including all other Wairarapa towns, as recommended following the Havelock North water crisis.

The current chlorination arrangements are temporary because the town is being supplied by only one bore, the one with the lowest levels of manganese. The addition of chorine to water with high levels of naturally occurring manganese can discolour the water.

South Wairarapa District Council Chief Executive Harry Wilson says, “Protecting public health and the resilience of the town’s water supply is our highest priority. Removing the manganese allows for permanent chlorination, which is the most tried and tested measure to ensure safe drinking water.

“Being able to remove manganese means we can once again supply water from all three bores and sustainably meet water demand for Martinborough this summer, and for the long term.”

Until the manganese extraction plant is up and running, it’s possible that water conservation may be required earlier than usual this summer.

“We’re keen for the community to understand the approach we’re taking to improve the resilience of Martinborough’s water supply, and what they can do to help manage summer water demand, prior to the manganese plant being operational,” says Mr Wilson.

Council’s proposal is that outdoor water restrictions for Martinborough will be applied if daily water consumption exceeds 1,200 m3/day. The community will be kept informed about water consumption levels and people can expect one week’s notice before a sprinkler ban is put in place.

The manganese extraction plant was consulted on as part of the Long Term Plan process. On 20 February, Council voted to bring forward the investment for the plant from 2021 year to this current financial year. The plant is being primarily loan funded with the remainder coming from the town’s infrastructure reserve. This means that the cost of the manganese plant will be achieved within the Annual Plan budgets already set.

The likely source of the E. coli contamination events earlier this year could not be found despite investigations carried out by Council and their contractors. The Council has been able to cover the $296,000 cost of both contamination events with funding from the Martinborough infrastructure reserve, at no additional cost to ratepayers.

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Media contact:

Amy Wharram

027 252 2863

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