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Water supply upgrade may lead to restrictions

Sep 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

droughtmain

Stuart Macaskill lakes looking south. (Image via Flickr by doomlordvekk)

THE UPGRADE of two aging water-storage lakes could severely restrict water use in the Wellington region if there was a drought.

The Stuart Macaskill lakes provide an important backup when the water supply is stretched, and are due to be upgraded over the next four years.

The upgrades, to make the lakes more earthquake-proof and increase their capacity, would require one of the two lakes to be drained over two consecutive summers, according to the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s regional sustainability committee.

“This could create some quite difficult problems,” said water supply manager Murray Kennedy during a committee meeting on September 3.

A decent drought comparable to that of the summer of 2007/08 would create an “enormous problem”, with the supply severely stretched.

A report authored by Mr Kennedy suggested that even if there were to be a mild drought while one of the lakes is empty, there would be a complete ban on garden-watering and other water restrictions would also be likely.

Mr Kennedy also said that determining potential risks would be important, and informing the public about the possible impact it could have on their water-usage should be prioritised.

The two lakes near Te Marua in Upper Hutt have a combined useable capacity of about 3,000 million litres – enough to cover the region’s water demand for 20 days in times when the normal supply is stretched.

The upgrade is estimated to cost between $6.5 million and $15 million, with work taking place over the next four years, and is included in the regional council’s annual plan.

A detailed report outlining the costs and benefits is due at the committee’s next meeting in October.

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