Salt in the water

Last updated 07:00 05/12/2013

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Rising salt levels in Havelock's already-limited water supply will hold back commercial development in the town, Marlborough district councillors say.

Council staff are looking at ways to lower water use in the town, including fixing leaks and reducing the township's water pressure. There is also a preliminary proposal to introduce water meters in late 2017.

The shortage of water has become more urgent because saltwater has affected the wells where Havelock draws its water supply, and the salt levels spiked last summer.

Staff briefed councillors on the assets and services committee last week on the issue and said that even though suspected leaking water mains had been replaced, more than 30 per cent of the water was being lost through leakage.

Council planning and development engineer Stuart Donaldson said work to manage water use in Havelock, including leak detection surveys to find underground leaks, would start next year.

There would be no new connections to properties outside the town water supply area and no connections to properties which would need more water than normal household supply, as well as the introduction of water restrictions in summer if necessary.

The salt levels were seasonal, he said, and increased at times when a lot of water was used, during summer months.

Mr Donaldson told committee members that, in Wairau Valley, demand had reduced by 50 per cent in the first year after the introduction of water meters and Nelson found the introduction of water meters reduced water demand by about 30 per cent.

Councillor Trevor Hook said the water restrictions were not good for commercial development in Havelock. "To me, that is more the concern."

The restrictions were bandaids, and something needed to be done in the short term, he agreed.

"But we have long-term problems here. We need to find water. We want growth in Havelock, we need to provide infrastructure for that."

Council assets and services manager Mark Wheeler agreed, but said that was hugely expensive.

"It's disappointing to us that we can't cope with any more wider industries in Havelock or Picton. There are the same issues with trade waste."

As an interim measure, councillors approved spending $90,000 to install a pressure management zone in Havelock, which would reduce water pressure and usage.


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- The Marlborough Express


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