Water plant prepared for boost in capacity

A $400,000 project to upgrade Oamaru's water treatment plant will boost its capacity by more than a third.

The work, which involved the replacement of new water treatment membranes at the Reservoir Rd plant, was recently completed and is part of a larger project, which would significantly improve the supply's ability to cope with adverse weather events and increased demand in the future.

That plan also includes the installation of an additional 8700cu m treated water reservoir at the treatment plant site next year.

Waitaki District Council water services manager Martin Pacey said the recent upgrade increased the plant's capacity to produce treated water by about 35%, which meant it was better able to handle instances where restrictions were placed on water use.

A recent example came last year, when 15,000 people on the Oamaru water supply stretching from Oamaru south to Moeraki were instructed to conserve water for several days amid fears the supply would run out.

In late November, a record-breaking 217mm of rain fell in Oamaru, more than five times the long-term November average of 44.7mm.

It was the highest amount recorded since records began in 1941.

The soaking resulted in water three times more turbid than seen before arriving at the treatment plant.

Mr Pacey said it was imperative the recent work was called out, as the town ''potentially'' could have faced water shortage issues during the summer period, when water use tended to increase.

While residents were asked to conserve water from mid-September onwards, that had since been lifted.

However, Mr Pacey said people should continue to conserve water when possible.

''We are asking people to be mindful of water use all of the time - it is a finite resource.''

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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