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Fixing Wellington’s Water Woes

September 5, 2022

There is no doubt we have been through a difficult time with our water infrastructure. My view is that generally aging infrastructure combined with damage from the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake accelerated breakages, and repairing this is not helped by a diminished workforce at Wellington Water (they are currently down one third of their staff).

In retrospect, previous Councils have not invested enough – but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Our current Council has certainly sought to make up for this – we are already fixing many pipes and have put aside 2.3 Billion over 10 years for further improvements.

In my time, as a local councillor-I have pushed for storm water upgrades for Queens Drive and Rua Street (2016), storm water upgrades in Kilbirnie (2017) and renewing the storm water outfall to sea as part of the Cobham Drive cycleway/walkway installation in 2019. We were also promised upgrades of the pipes to Miramar as part of any development at Shelly Bay.

We’ve made major investments  in the sewerage network with the upgrade of rising mains in Bowen, Whitmore and Featherston Streets, a new Dixon Street pump station and rising main as well as repairs to the main interceptor pipe out to Moa Point. Wellington Water are currently working on building additional resilience into the CBD sewerage system with a  second pump station and rising main under Taranaki Street and a new connection to that main under Wakefield Street from Kent Terrace.

We’re also planning a sludge drying plant so that rather than the 24 truckloads of “sludge” we saw when the Mt Albert tunnel was damaged, we will only have 1 truckload of dried pellets. This will massively reduce the volume we are sending to landfill and help us look at other waste reduction to extend the life of our landfill. (At the moment , we need to mix 4 parts of ordinary waste with each part of sludge for stabilisation- the requirement to do this will disappear once we have the dried product).

It’s worth mentioning too that we have now nearly finished building the massive new Omaroro reservoir which will provide a secure water supply for the hospital and back up for water to the southern and eastern suburbs, as well as putting in a city-wide network of community water storage tanks (at schools and the like) for emergency resilience. The photo below shows some current councillors on a visit to the Omaroro site in March 2021 just prior to the concrete base being poured.

While out door-knocking I’ve picked up a lot of concern about our water infrastructure, but also that residents don’t know what is being done to fix this. I hope this post helps. As always, please feel free to comment or contact me if you would like further information. Email sarah.free@actrix.co.nz or phone 022 121 6412

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