New pumps will help keep West Taieri dry

Looking into a new pump at the revamped Waipori pumping station at its commissioning yesterday are (from left) Otago Regional Council project engineer Garry LaHood, former West Taieri Drainage Liaison Committee chairman Alastair Cameron, committee chairman Neil Gamble and Woodside farmer Ray Beardsmore. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Looking into a new pump at the revamped Waipori pumping station at its commissioning yesterday are (from left) Otago Regional Council project engineer Garry LaHood, former West Taieri Drainage Liaison Committee chairman Alastair Cameron, committee chairman Neil Gamble and Woodside farmer Ray Beardsmore. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
West Taieri's $1.1 million pumping station upgrade has future-proofed drainage of about 7000ha of productive pastoral land, Otago Regional Council engineering manager Ramon Strong says.

The upgraded station, the council's largest and most critical, was officially opened at a ceremony yesterday when former West Taieri Drainage Liaison Committee chairman Alastair Cameron cut the ribbon, watched by farmers, contractors and regional council staff and councillors.

Ratepayers on the West Taieri, which is below sea level, funded the revamp, which included the installation of two German-made pumps that remove 2100 litres of water per second and a new shed built, to help drain the area when it flooded.

ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said the new pumping station had its first test during heavy rains last June, pumping out more than 10 million cubic metres of water in two weeks and operating ''swimmingly''.

The project had taken years to come to fruition because of the cost and the need to retrofit it to the existing foundations but was needed given the old pumps were at the end of their life, he said.

''The West Taieri could not continue to function as it is today without this infrastructure.''

Farmers, contractors and Otago Regional Council staff and councillors inspect the pump station yesterday.
Farmers, contractors and Otago Regional Council staff and councillors inspect the pump station yesterday.
Mr Strong said the new pumps increased the amount of water which could be pumped out of the West Taieri, especially when Lake Waipori was high, so it should cope with changes over time due to climate change or sea-level rises.

Most of the investment was not ''evident to the eye'' and followed the upgrade of the nearby drainage pumps.

The flood pumps kicked into action when the water level got too high for the drainage pumps to work, he said.

While most of the system was electronic, it would still need manual clearing of weeds from the intake system, although the new pumps came with a mechanical cleaning system.

''While it has a very smart brain, it will still need regular staff visits.''

Nearby farmer David Wilson, also a member of the West Taieri Drainage Liaison Committee, said given the area was below sea level the pumps made it possible to farm.

''Otherwise, it would not be viable - it would just be rushes and wetland''.

Once the new pumps were switched on during last June's heavy rain, it made a noticeable difference the level of water on his property, he said.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

Sounds good to me

''Otherwise, it would not be viable - it would just be rushes and wetland''

Sounds good to me at some stage the councils need to start thinking of a managed retreat from some areas with the predicted sea level rises. South Dunedin also comes to mind, but I doubt any council in Dunedin would have that much foresight. Also stop turning some very productive farmland in urban sprawl across the Taieri its a mistake they may regret assome parts of Aussie are.

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