Meridian stalls $4m Twizel water plan

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012

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The multimillion-dollar upgrade of Twizel's water supply will have to wait a little longer, after Meridian expressed opposition to the preferred site for the well.

The Mackenzie District Council wants to source its new, gravitational-fed supply for Twizel from nearby Ben Ohau Station.

It obtained a 35-year consent for the activity last year, and the construction is expected to cost between $4 million and $5m.

However, asset manager Bernie Haar said state-owned generator Meridian Energy did not approve of the council's preferred location for a test well, which was near the Pukaki Canal and Fraser Culvert.

"It's unfortunate. We have other options, but that one was considered the most suitable," Mr Haar said.

"But at least it's better for us to find out now, rather than drill a great big hole in the ground and then discover that Meridian doesn't approve of the site, wasting money in the process."

Meridian disapproved of the site because it was concerned about potential disturbance to the canal.

Mr Haar said the Ostler fault also limited the council's options for testing sites. "We needed a geologist to examine some of the proposed sites, as there's a risk that you might hit a fracture.

"But it took him a while to assess the sites, as he had commitments in Christchurch."

A discussion document presented to the Twizel Community Board also revealed the Conservation Department would likely oppose one of the council's other choices - above the Ruataniwha trace of the Ostler fault - because it was concerned about the effects on the water table and on native fish.

"We will carry on talking to the main players: that includes DOC, Meridian, and Land Information New Zealand," Mr Haar said.

He hoped that the council would find a suitable site for a well by June next year.

"We still think the Ben Ohau site is the best option, rather than merely upgrading at the current site," he said.

"As the town's population increases, we need a supply that will be able to meet the demand."

Twizel community board chairman Peter Bell said it was disappointing that Meridian did not seem to approve of the council's preferred site.

However, he hoped everyone could come to an agreement.

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- The Timaru Herald

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