Fire affects water supply

More than 700 customers face strict water restrictions after the Lower Waitaki water treatment plant was significantly damaged by fire yesterday morning.

The Waitaki District Council issued an urgent conserve water notice to the customers on the Lower Waitaki scheme in the Pukeuri, Papakaio and Hilderthorpe areas, north of Oamaru, after the fire which broke out at the Richmond treatment plant about 1.48am.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman said the fire was discovered by a council operator, who was alerted by an alarm activation.

Crews from Oamaru arrived at the scene, at the corner of Richmond and Ferry Rds, just after 2am and called for a tanker from Weston to assist.

The fire was extinguished by about 3.30am, but the Oamaru brigade was called back at 10.42am when a fire investigator discovered hot spots.

Council water services acting manager Michael Goldingham said the Lower Waitaki water supply had been turned off due to extensive damage to the treatment shed and equipment, and the council was working on temporary and medium-term solutions to get water flowing again.

It was asking customers to only use water for essential purposes until further notice.

"Our goal is to get compliant water running within two to three days," Mr Goldingham said.

"It won’t be fully compliant drinking water, but it will be bacterial compliant drinking water back running again within that time period."

Customers on the Lower Waitaki scheme, a restricted supply, should have three days of storage on their properties, and if strict conservation methods were followed, they should have enough water until a temporary supply was in place, he said.

Restoring supply to one Lower Waitaki zone might take longer, due to its steeper terrain.

"That’s actually going to require pumping or some other solution to get water back up to there."

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but it was believed to be an electrical fault.

Mr Goldingham thanked users for their patience.

Updates were being posted on the council’s website and Facebook page.

Alliance’s Pukeuri plant was not affected by the outage as it had its own water treatment plant, a spokesman said.

rebecca.ryan@odt.co.nz

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