News: Featherston water pipeline

4 February 2022

Work has been authorised to fix a pipeline which provides Featherston’s only source of drinking water.

The town’s water travels 10km from Greytown’s treatment plant at the Waiohine River, crossing the Tauherenikau River, where a section of pipe has become exposed and is leaking.

When river levels dropped in December, Wellington Water Ltd, which manages South Wairarapa’s water assets, noticed that the rocks underneath the pipe had become eroded, putting pressure on the pipe. The situation has been monitored regularly since.

The South Wairarapa District Council’s Assets and Services Committee on 2 February agreed to authorise the Chief Executive to begin temporary repairs on the pipe and committed, in principle, to a more permanent solution. 

Chief Executive Harry Wilson said the Council would pursue a short-term fix to secure the pipe, with increased monitoring, while a more permanent solution is sought.

“The river flow is very dynamic and so the committee has authorised a temporary solution which will allow us time to design and implement a permanent fix.”

One option could involve attaching the pipe to the rail bridge, but consents and permission from local landowners, and potentially KiwiRail, would be involved. Securing contractors and receiving supplies would also take time.

The committee’s recommendation now goes to the full Council meeting on February 23 but due to the high risk of failure, Wellington Water has been given permission to commence work beforehand.

Wellington Water has a contingency plan which includes boil notices and sending water tankers to Featherston should the pipeline fail but fortunately, so far, the pipe has held. The community will be kept informed of progress on this.

River levels also need to be low enough for safe access to the river to allow repairs to take place.

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