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Water supply cut after pipe swept away

Water flowing from the Waiohine Gorge supply straight into the Boar Bush Gully stream after a pipe snapped off. [The black pipe in the photo is obsolete having been replaced a while ago with the one that has snapped]. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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More than 100mm of rain came down in the Tararua Ranges from Wednesday to Friday morning saturating the ground and forcing the collapse of a bank supporting Featherston’s water pipeline.

With the bank gone, the water pipe snapped off and was swept away by the stream below.

The town’s water supply was flowing into the Boar Bush Gully Stream rather than into the town’s water pipe system to households and businesses.

The supply to Featherston ceased early Friday morning.

Featherston School and St Teresa’s Primary School closed before the bells rang.

Town supply is gravity fed from the Waiohine River [Greytown] to a water reservoir in Boar Bush Gully, Featherston.

It crosses streams along the way, but the Boar Bush Gully stream was flowing like a river, according to Wellington Water and this, combined with heavy rain drenching the bank sides, wiped out the bank.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen filling up a water container for a Featherston resident. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

South Wairarapa District Council and Wellington Water got two water tankers into town by 7.30am.

Ministry of Health directed residents to boil any drinking water that was still coming through the taps.

The district’s mayor, Alex Beijen, was in the town by 7.15am and, with other SWDC councillors, informed businesses and residents of the situation.

He explained to residents that the plan was to get a temporary water pipe in place by nightfall.

Water was available from a Fox St tanker and a mobile tanker made the rounds on various streets throughout the day.

“A team went up to Boar Bush Gully to start work on a replacement pipe and Wellington Water will work over the weekend to put in a permanent replacement,” Beijen said.

He said on Friday that portaloos were coming from Masterton for the public toilets.

To avoid depleting the reservoir, Greytown and Featherston residents were asked to conserve water.

Beijen said this had happened once before but, “it really highlights why councillors are prioritising water supply management and wastewater management for the 2020/21 council budget”.

Wellington Water delivery manager customer operations Vic Maggs came from Wellington in the morning.

He was working from the Virtual Emergency Management Operations set-up but thought it was best to be on site.

“There has been very heavy rain, it is extremely wet in the ranges,” Maggs said.

“I live in Greytown and the Tauherenikau River is higher than I have seen it in many, many years.

“This is a weather event.”

Andrew James, a meteorologist at the Metservice, said it was a very wet week for the region with 112mm of rainfall measured at the Angle Knob Metservice station in the Tararuas over the 48 hours, to Friday at noon.

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