Water storage at Greytown’s Memorial Park needs immediate upgrade work. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

MARCUS ANSELM
marcus.anselm@age.co.nz

Millions of dollars of South Wairarapa’s drinking water assets will be up to par after the district council rubber-stamped releasing funds for urgent work.

South Wairarapa District Council has committed $500,000 of its reserves to ensure urgent work is completed to meet Wellington Water standards.

The total cost of all improvements could be anywhere from $2.3 million to $5.6m.

The council signed up with the six-council specialist company in October, and quickly found that further infrastructure investment was needed.

A WW report and findings from the Ministry of Health showed shortcomings in the district’s existing drinking water setup.

The initial bill approved by council last week will cover urgent and interim work of the plant at Greytown’s Memorial Park, and design for permanent improvements there, and improvements to provide safe water to Pirinoa residents.

But further improvements are needed throughout the district to reach WW’s minimum requirements.

Chief executive Harry Wilson said SWDC had a duty of care to residents to take care of the immediate issues and the risks raised.

He said they moved as quickly as possible to address the risks.

“There is no concern from us, council, that there are contaminants that would affect people’s health.

“There is however a risk that it could happen, were we not to act.”

WW informed Wilson and mayor Alex Beijen of the situation earlier this month.

The company had met the whole council, and its work in Greytown and Pirinoa was signed off at Wednesday’s meeting in Martinborough.

WW’s Ian McSherry said the urgent work in Greytown and Pirinoa should be finished by Christmas.

As well as the urgent work at Greytown and Pirinoa, work is also needed at the Waiohine plant, which supplies Featherston and Greytown, and also in Martinborough to meet standards for bacterial, protozoa, and chemicals.

The Waiohine plant needed improvements to its multi-barrier approach, and the other locations needed it installed.

A multi-barrier approach, such as using chlorination and ultra-violet disinfection with fail safes and alarms, is part of the drinking water standard.

Beijen said the work would be paid for through low interest loans.

“This asset expense is one that will be of use to generations in the future.

“The council is fortunate to be able to receive low interest loans, to enable the cost to be spread over many years and generations.

“As such, future infrastructure funding is expected to be a mix of loans and infrastructure reserves.”

Work is expected to start on the two priority tasks soon, with the aim to finish before the end of the year.