Water upgrade under way
Initial works around Richmond's new $8 million water treatment plant will see a rolling programme of user connections and pipe installations happening on Lower Queen St from now until March.
The project will see the two supplies currently piped to Richmond residents blended into one and disinfected using ultraviolet light and pH adjustment before it is pumped to the Champion Rd and Richmond reservoirs.
Currently Richmond is divided into two zones. One is fed from the Waimea bores via the Waimea Water Treatment Plant and Champion Road Reservoir, the other is fed from the Richmond bores and the Richmond Reservoir.
The work on the new treatment plant, on the corner of McShanes Rd, will start in March and is likely to disrupt traffic and some water supplies.
It is expected Richmond will switch to the new water treatment supply from June.
The project has been tipped to not only solve a looming water shortage for Richmond but enable the community to meet its 2015 Drinking Water Standards deadline. The council was getting close to the limit of its water take consent from its Richmond bores, but it was only at 30 per cent of its take from its Waimea bores.
Mayor Richard Kempthorne said drivers for the project were the nitrate levels measured in the Waimea supply, securing a future water supply for Richmond and ensuring the town's water was potable at all times. In April residents had to boil their water after localised flooding in Richmond.
Utilities asset engineer Kim Arnold said the plant's main driver had always been the need to meet the national Drinking Water Standards. The mixing of the two water sources from the different bore fields would negate any nitrate concerns and the UV treatment would make sure there were no bacteria in the supply.
The bonus of the new plant, which had been years in the planning, was that it could still be used if the council had to shift its bore fields further inland due to salt water intrusion in future years, he said.
In September Nelson Marlborough medical officer of health Dr Ed Kiddle said water from the Waimea supply was safe to drink but any increase in nitrates would be a concern.
He was responding to a scientific report that said already-high levels of nitrate in parts of the Waimea Plains groundwater could become worse if the Lee Valley Dam goes ahead on the back of increased irrigation as part of intensified land use.
But Kim said that scenario was unlikely. The land was already intensively used and the dam would only provide the water which was currently taken from the over-allocated groundwater source.