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Possible water loss causes panic

The junction of Chester Rd and SH2. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER

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A letter informing residents of Chester Rd, near Carterton, they could lose their water supply has sparked panic and confusion.

At least 22 residents of Chester Rd received a letter this month from Carterton District Council informing them a decision needed to be made over the poor condition of the water main that supplies their properties.

It said the options being considered at a council meeting on Wednesday were to either replace the pipe or abandon the service, leaving many residents angry about the sudden prospect of being cut off.

But it appears only a handful of properties will be affected.

Council infrastructure, planning and regulatory manager Dave Gittings said cutting the supply to most of the letter recipients was unlikely, although the council wasn’t compelled to maintain the pipe as it was an urban water supply pipe in a rural area.

This means properties on Chester Rd are only entitled to a ‘trickle feed’, although water levels supplied to these properties had not been audited recently.

The proposal put before councillors indicates properties south of Carterton Golf Course are likely to keep their ‘trickle feed’ water supply but this would now be reviewed by council officers to ensure the maximum volumes taken adhered to the one litre per minute requirements.

However, for this to happen, the 1.1km section of pipe will need to be replaced at a cost of $171,000 – something the council does not have money for.

“It’s not in the Long Term Plan because I wasn’t aware of the state then [when the LTP was finalised],” Gittings said.

But six residents north of the cemetery face losing their piped supply as it would cost about $341,000 to replace this section of pipe.

The proposal is for the council to assist them with setting up a self-supply system, including a tank, pump and UV system at a cost of $6000 per residential connection – something which wasn’t made clear to recipients of the letter.

A resident, Grant Ogilvie, had spoken to the council after receiving his letter and was relieved to find out the section of pipe which supplies his property was not recommended to be cut off as he initially thought.

“It was something of a surprise when we got the letter and a bit of a shock,” he said.

Another resident Kelly Ellison was concerned being cut off from the urban supply would mean not enough water for her trough supply as she didn’t have a water race running through her property.

Long-time Chester Rd resident Bernie Ellison was confident ahead of Wednesday’s meeting that residents would come out with a suitable solution.

“It appears the council wants to resolve the issue with residents and that’s what the meeting is for.

“I’ve spoken to a councillor and it was a great conversation, and I think there will be some resolutions.”

The miscommunication between council and residents came after the same letter was sent to all those linked to the water main supply, even though the majority will most likely retain the service.

“The letter was intended to merely alert residents a discussion would be under way in [Wedneday’s] Infrastructure and Services Committee meeting over the fate of the deteriorated pipe before seeing it in a publicly-released agenda,” Gittings said.

He admitted it may not have been “worded the best way”.

Committee members were to vote on Wednesday on whether to replace both sections of pipe or enter negotiations with the six residents north of the cemetery regarding an alternative water source.

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