Wednesday, 29 January 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Water restrictions also affecting properties not forming part of TCDC’s water supply schemes

Water restrictions remain in force across much of the Coromandel Peninsula, ranging from a total watering ban to a sprinkler ban and the use of hand held hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems on alternate days.

Properties not forming part of Thames-Coromandel District Council’s nine urban water supply schemes (Thames, Coromandel Town, Matarangi, Whitianga, Hahei, Tairua, Pauanui, Onemana and Whangamata) and two rural water supply schemes (Matatoki and Thames Valley, including Puriri, Omahu, Wharepoa and Hikutaia) are also affected by the restrictions. According to Mohamed Imtiaz, the council’s infrastructure manager, there are 27,625 rateable properties on the Coromandel, of which 19,558 have active connections to the council’s public water supply network. “We do not hold records of the number of people on their own private water supply, but assume it’s the balance of 8,037 properties,” he says.

Properties with their own water supply are mostly dependent on roof water and bore holes. When such properties are running short on water, they have to rely on bulk water carriers to help them out.

Graham Mansell, the owner of Whitianga Water Cartage, says the demand for bulk water supply in holiday hot spots like Cooks Beach and Opito Bay has increased significantly this summer. “The lack of rain we’re experiencing isn’t helping anyone,” he says. “Unfortunately, on top of our increased workload, we’re currently not able to take water from the TCDC water supply network in Whitianga. Initially we were told that Thames was the closest place we could take water, which caused a whole heap of hassles, especially over the really busy period around Christmas and New Year. For example, one day a few weeks ago, it took one of my tankers more than 45 minutes to get through Tairua on the way back from Thames with all the extra traffic.

“Fortunately we can now take water from Coromandel Town as well, which is making things a little bit easier.

“It’s fair to say we’re flat out. With all the extra travelling we have to do to get water, my four existing tankers just cannot cope with the demand and I’ve had to hire in a fifth vehicle. On top of that, there are some places we simply haven’t got the time to get to, like Whiritoa, which I’m for the time being servicing through a subcontractor in the Waikato.”

“Unfortunately the extra effort we have to put in isn’t only causing time delays, it’s also coming at a cost, which we have no choice than to pass on to our customers.”

Where Graham would under normal circumstances charge $400 to deliver 10,000l of water to Cooks Beach, the cost at the moment is $700.

Mr Imtiaz says bulk water carriers can take water from TCDC’s water supply network if there is a surplus after servicing the properties connected to council’s public water supply in any particular area. “In Whitianga, the river source of water, the Whangamaroro River, is running quite low at the moment and the amount of water we can take from the river is limited by [our] resource consent,” he says. “Hence the water restrictions in the Mercury Bay area and the need to source tanker water from elsewhere. 

“Generally council’s water supplies are sufficient for our community needs during almost all of the year. However, for a few weeks in the summer, it is unfortunate that some temporary restrictions need to be imposed to manage water demand within consented limits. This is because the population in our region more than triples during the holiday season.”

In order to better serve the community at what can be challenging times, like what the Coromandel is experiencing this summer, Graham has invested in a new 200,000l “bladder,” which he is in the process of filling with trips his tankers are making to Thames at night time. “The bladder will come in useful when people are in a genuine crisis and simply cannot wait the extra time it takes us to get to them with all the extra effort we have to put in at the moment,” he says.

Pictured: One of Whitianga Water Cartage’s four tankers. Extra demand and the fact that bulk water carriers cannot at the momenttake water from TCDC’s water supply network in Whitianga, necessitated the business to hire in a fifth vehicle.

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