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Water warning failure

By Chelsea Boyle

[email protected]

Council workers were left scrambling when water was cut to Carterton residents following the failure of a warning system.

The town was left high and dry yesterday morning when a faulty overflow pipe emptied the reservoir, leaving businesses and residents without water at about 8.20am.

The low-level warning system failed to alert the Carterton District Council operations team prior to the water outage, so it was all hands-on deck when the town’s taps were turning to no avail.

Carterton is currently relying on water from the Lincoln Rd bores while the water intake infrastructure for the Kaipatangata Stream is repaired following the damage sustained during flash flooding on February 18.

CDC operations manager Garry Baker said after becoming aware of the issue, he fielded a stream of calls from dentists, rest homes and residents saying they were out of water, while trying to find out exactly what had gone wrong.

It had been a bit “hectic” tracking down the issue but it had ultimately been a “simple” solve, he said.

The water overflow pipe had deteriorated at the bottom, and had drained the reservoir at the bottom instead of drawing excess water off the top.

The Lincoln Rd bore pumps were sending water to the reservoir but that was not filling.

“By 9am we had things back to normal,” Mr Baker said.

“It took us a little bit to find it [the problem].”

“But once we knew what had happened it was simple.”

He said they were calling in experts to investigate why the low-level warning had not sounded.

The system usually had a three-pronged alarm, the final port of call a direct page to Mr Baker.

Overall he was pleased with his team’s response time.

The water reaching people in Carterton would appear aerated for a short time, but this would be fixed by flushing the system.

Mr Baker said he would love to guarantee there would never be problems with the water supply but over time “these hiccups are going to happen”.

He recommended people stayed prepared for emergencies, such as earthquakes, and kept some water stored.

The supplementary bore system on Lincoln Rd was started by council in 1990.

The bores are brought into use whenever the Kaipatangata Stream supply is not adequate to ensure there is still water for domestic use and as well as reserves for firefighting purposes.

Carterton Mayor John Booth said he was impressed with how council staff dealt with the issue.

The message of the water shortage was “very quickly” posted to all relevant Facebook pages.

“People were very well notified and I was very proud of our staff and how they did it,” Mr Booth said.

“We were very lucky we were able to go from the back up water supply to the main water supply to get water going in a fairly quick time.”



  1. Its a concerning matter and we need to ensure our infrastructure is properly maintained and services are properly contracted for. More concerning is the other headline that “CDC wages are up $700k over 5 years”, is our infrastructure being underfunded?

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