Wellington Hospital could have to shut within seven days of a big quake, warns Nick Leggett
Wellington Hospital could have to close within seven days of a big quake, because it could run out of water, health board member Nick Leggett has warned.
The hospital's main water supply comes by pipeline from the Hutt Valley. If that were severed by a quake, its emergency supply would run dry within about a week, he said.
That would lead to the closure of the hospital's water-cooled backup generator, forcing 500 or more patients, plus staff, out of the building.
"The hospital would have to be shut down," said Leggett, who did not contest the health board elections this year, but remains a board member until the newly elected board takes over in December.
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It was estimated 60 per cent of Wellington, including the hospital, could be without water for 100 days after a big quake, he said.
The solution – a $20 million emergency reservoir for the capital – is stalled as Wellington City Council and Capital & Coast District Health Board argue over funding it.
The council wants the health board, via taxpayers, to chip in. However, Leggett said the funding of water infrastructure was not something any other health board in New Zealand had been asked to do.
Councillor Iona Pannett, who has the council's infrastructure portfolio, said on Wednesday that the council would guarantee the hospital water supply when the reservoir, holding about 35 million litres, was built.
The reservoir was budgeted for in the Long-Term Plan, but had not been allocated specific funding.
Detailed costings, plans, and a final location still needed to be sorted out, but it would probably be underground on Town Belt land in the area of Mt Cook's Prince of Wales Park, she said.
"Budgets can be brought forward or pushed back."
The council would still be seeking taxpayer funding to cover some of the cost, she said.
Chris Lowry, from the DHB, said in a written statement that, if mains water supply was lost in a quake, water would initially be sourced from the board's on-site emergency reservoir.
"Our generators are cooled using a 'closed loop' system that continually reuses the same water. Due to factors such as evaporation, the water only occasionally needs to be topped up – while we don't have an exact figure, it is not a substantial amount.
"Water for our generators comes from the main water supply – sourced from either the Hutt River, combined flow of the Wainuiomata and Orongorongo rivers, or the Waiwhetu aquifer."