Damned dam finally nears completion

RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014

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A $1.3m dam upgrade in Mokau, six years in the making, will be finished in time for summer, says Waitomo District Council.

A flood of problems halted progress on the west coast settlement's dam upgrade, set to double the capacity of the town's drinking water storage supply to 20,000 cubic metres.

There was previously no readily available additional water source in Mokau, and water restrictions caused by dry summers have plagued residents and holidaymakers since 2006.

District engineer Christiaan van Rooyen estimated the static population of Mokau to be about 250, but said this can swell to 2000 during summer holiday periods and Easter.

"Depending on the growth of Mokau, this should be enough supply for the next 20 to 50 years."

He said the dam should be completely operational by late November in time for the summer rush.

The problem-plagued project began in 2008 with council initially planning to raise the existing dam to increase its capacity. A site investigation was required by local iwi before work could proceed, which revealed the existing dam was historically Maori gardens and should not be disturbed.

Council purchased a site slightly downhill from the existing dam about 500m from SH3, and construction began in January this year.

In February, discovery of an ancient shell heap and a protected hangi pit halted construction and required a redesign to protect the findings.

Work recommenced in March, though strong winds tore through the dam in May, ripping parts of the liner.

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- Waikato Times

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