Tekapo canal repairs progress

PATCHED UP: Special lining material has been installed to repair the leaking Tekapo Canals.
PATCHED UP: Special lining material has been installed to repair the leaking Tekapo Canals.

A month of near-perfect weather has meant repairs to the leaking Tekapo canals are well on schedule this summer.

Yesterday, the Herald got the opportunity to visit the work site.

Genesis Energy's $125 million repair job began with the draining of the canals on January 9, and since then much of the affected sections of the canal have been lined with special material. It is expected about 5.25 kilometres of canal will have been lined by April 21.

Engineering services manager Michael Campbell said European firm Carpi-Tech has more than 50 workers assigned to duties such as assembling the lining material, while Fulton Hogan had employed more than 150 workers for earth-moving and other industrial work. Up to 150 workers were on the site at any given time.

"Watching the workers on the lining material, it's like an ant colony; everyone seems to know exactly what they're doing on the job," Mr Campbell said.

The Tekapo canals are expected to be refilled and fully operational by April 22.

Mr Campbell said the summer's other major jobs included repairing a leaking culvert and seismic strengthening of the bridge at State Highway 8.

"We've been very lucky with the weather; we have had very few delays at all," he said.

"If we had any major rainfall, it could have put us back several days at a time, as you have to clean up afterwards."

Temporary watertight structures known as coffer dams have been installed, and would remain in place until water returns to the canal.

Mr Campbell said although there would be some workers on site for remedial work after April, the major job next summer would be repairing the section of the canal known as the Maryburn Fill. About 2.25km of the canal would be lined next summer.

Genesis received consents to undertake the work over three summers. However, Mr Campbell said most of the repair job should be completed by 2014 barring unforeseen circumstances.

Genesis inherited the leaking Tekapo canals when it was forced by the Government to buy the Tekapo A and B power stations at a cost of about $800 million from rival state-owned generators Meridian in 2011.

Mr Campbell said the company was aware of the leaks before acquiring the assets and significant due diligence work was done before repairs began.

"We hope this work will protect it for up to 50 years," he said.

The Timaru Herald