Downlands to end boil notices with major upgrade

Downlands to end boil notices with major upgrade

Boil water notices on the Downlands Water Rural Water Scheme will likely be a thing of the past with the commissioning of the scheme’s biggest upgrade in 85 years.

Last week, the Downlands Joint Standing Committee opened the new Te Ana Wai Water Treatment plant just outside of Albury in the Mackenzie District. It will bring the supply into full compliance with the Drinking Water Standards and enable the removal of boil water notices for the majority of customers.

The new plant will serve most of the 2,300 connections and approximately 5,700 people on the Downlands water supply. It covers an area through the Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie Districts.

This new microfiltration treatment plant enables Council to safely take and treat water of lower quality. It will also help meet the bacteria and protozoa requirements under the Drinking Water Standards.

This new treatment plant has been a part of the $26 million investment into the Downlands scheme since 2020. This funding has also included the replacement of old pipework, new infiltration galleries, a new pump station, and new treated and raw water reservoirs. These upgrades represent the biggest investment into the Downlands water supply since the scheme’s inception in 1937.

How will the upgrades remove boil notices for the foreseeable future?

Timaru District Council Drainage and Water Manager Grant Hall said that the upgrades would mean higher quality and more reliable customer service. It will also enable some scheme expansion in the long term.

“This is an exciting time for Downlands consumers. The new water treatment plant is a microfiltration plant, using the latest technology to allow us to adapt. This means it will deliver improved water quality to consumers with greater supply reliability. As a result, the precautionary boil water notices can be removed for most consumers. While construction began in earnest in 2020, the need for this investment has been identified for some time. Large infrastructure projects of this scale take many years to deliver. This is why we plan for the needs of our District’s water supplies to deliver them cost-effectively,” said Hall.

Hall also said, “As well as a lift in water quality, the project will enable growth and development within the scheme. It will also provide added resilience. The raw water ponds allow us to have up to 10 days of water for use at peak demand before we even have to take water during extreme storm events. The treatment plant can then, in turn, treat lower-quality water. When you combine these systems, you see a huge increase in the resilience of the scheme. We’re also into the final few months of completing the pipeline replacement from the treatment plant to Cave. These upgrades will enable us to increase the allocation of water to properties. It will also allow us to possibly supply properties that are not currently connected and to provide for new connections to new dwellings.”

Most customers on the Downlands scheme no longer need to boil their water. This excludes residents of St Andrews as further work is required to bring their treatment plant up to standards. Customers in the Waitohi zone are also excluded as that zone requires a complex repair.

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