A major overhaul of the Burkes Drain near Himatangi that will improve drainage and flood protection in the Taonui Basin is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Horizons Regional Council is spending about $3.6 million to build a drainage and flood basin at Burkes Drain with new pumps that push through 7500 litres of water per second. The four pumps can deliver enough water in five and a half minutes to fill an Olympic-sized pool.
Horizons engineer John Foxall said the system would take water from Bunnythorpe, the Taonui Aerodrome and Feilding, which all flowed into the valuable basin.
The pumps would clear the water earlier than before, he said.
When the Manawatu Standard visited the site yesterday, a crane was putting in the new equipment and lifting concrete panels into place.
When the Manawatu River floodgates were closed, water from the Taonui Basin could be pumped into the river.
Foxall said ratepayers were picking up some of the cost, but most of it was being borne by the people getting most value from the pumps - dairy farmers in the basin.
"It is high-value land and they are prepared to pay for the benefit. Originally it would have been flax and wetland, but it is all drained and improved land now."
Horizons engineering cadet Emily Carroll said a control shed had already been built at the site, which would house electrical equipment to run the pumps, as well as a back-up diesel generator.
She said the pumps could work automatically or be turned on manually from the shed.
Carroll said Burkes Drain had been widened and deepened slightly so it could carry more water to the pumps.
Main Drain fed into Burkes Drain, so the pumps would take water from the whole Taonui Basin.
"It is a big job. We started last December and we'll probably finish this November."
Carroll said the four "huge" pumps in Horizons' yard were ready to be installed when the chamber was ready.
Whitaker Civil Engineering was undertaking the work on contract to Horizons. It had a crane and digger at the site, and trucks had brought each of the pump chamber panels from Palmerston North.
Ross McEwen of Whitaker's said a total of 34 concrete panels, made by Palmerston North-based company Ron Oakley Ltd, were being installed.
McEwen said some rain would be needed to fill the drain to make sure the pumps were operating well, before they were needed during a flood.
The work is part of the Lower Manawatu Scheme. Horizons adopted the final scope for the scheme's Flood Protection Upgrade Project five years ago, along with a new rating system. As part of that project, mitigation works within the Taonui Basin were proposed, which had paved the way for the new Burkes pump station.
- Manawatu Standard
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