Wellington Scoop

Wellington Water asks us to be prepared – by storing water now

Press Release – Wellington Water
The pipes that supply water to our homes could stop working for as long as 100 days after an earthquake.

Wellington Water is calling on all Wellingtonians to play their part in getting emergency water sorted. It will take time to get a new emergency network operating after an event. Chief Executive Colin Crampton says for at least the first seven days all Wellington homes will rely on water stored at home.

“Complacency is the enemy of being prepared. Household water storage is an urgent issue – every household needs to store at least 20 litres a person a day, for seven days. Store water now!”

Over the past 12 months, Wellington’s councils have been working to establish an above ground emergency network. Plans are to begin operating new community water stations from day eight after a major disaster. The next phase of work focuses on setting up a model for distributing water across the four city council areas. It’s likely that contractors, staff, and emergency volunteers will help distribute water across emergency water zones.

Wellington Water Emergency Management Team Leader Erin Ganley says emergency water sources are strategically located across metropolitan Wellington. Water stations use water from rivers and streams, new bores, as well as desalination.

“The emergency network focuses on providing communities with a self-sufficient, local, supply of water. Our aim is for water stations and hundreds of collection points to begin operating after day seven. These will be the main sources of water until we can repair damaged pipes.

“We’ve worked rapidly to establish the new sources, as well as the water treatment and infrastructure that will be required to operate them. Disruption to major roads and landslides is likely to fragment Wellington into distinct ‘islands’. The set-up of the network is based on these areas, and will prevent the need for travel across landslips or other potential hazards to collect water.”

Erin Ganley says the scale of the earthquake will have an obvious influence on the level of the emergency response. Both Wellington Water and councils will have limited emergency resources, and there is work ahead for everyone in Wellington to get prepared and understand how the emergency water network will operate.

If the disaster triggers a state of emergency, the Wellington Civil Defence Emergency Management Group will have oversight of the region’s emergency response. Group Controller David Russell says solutions for distributing water within each island will continue to be developed.

“The new water sources are a great initiative. I’m looking forward to working with Wellington Water, councils, and our communities on the next phase of the emergency water network. Water resilience is about councils and communities working together. There’s a lot of effort ahead to design what works best in each part of the region,” he says.

Wellington Water, with support from Porirua, Wellington, Upper Hutt, and Hutt city councils will help inform communities on how and where to collect water locally. Each of the 22 community water stations are capable of supplying 4,000 to 11,000 people every day. Find out more about getting your household prepared and the potential role you can play in your community’s response. Check out your local Community Emergency Hub guide at: getprepared.nz/hubs

Hutt City
Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace says while buried pipes are out of action, the above ground network will rely on vehicles to keep water flowing. Utes, trailers, vans, or any vehicle that can transport a 1,000 litre water bladder will transport water to collection points within each of the ‘islands’.
“We know that communities that work together do better in emergencies. But action is also needed right now. You will need to survive on your own water for at least seven days. The taps are likely to stop working very soon after the quake, and it will be at least one week before we can start supplying the emergency water.”

Porirua’s bulk water supply fully relies on three water sources in Lower and Upper Hutt. Mayor Mike Tana says the new above ground supply will introduce a local, independent supply from one bore and two streams. Water collection points will be dotted around the three emergency water islands in Porirua.
“Local sources mean we have a far better chance of getting back to normal as quickly as possible after the event. This emergency network is a solid example of a central and local government partnership delivering results quickly.”

Upper Hutt
Mayor of Upper Hutt Wayne Guppy says the project is the first of its kind in Aotearoa-New Zealand.
“The vision for civil defence emergency management in New Zealand is to have resilient communities. By providing local water sources we will be able to help people return to work, school, and find their ‘new normal’.

“Water supply in Upper Hutt could be restored far more quickly than other areas. An important aspect of the design of the community water stations is making them mobile. It’s very likely that equipment in our area will be shared across the emergency response and transported to any area with the highest need.”

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says Wellington needs a practical and workable plan for resuming water supply. When infrastructure is broken, communities will need to support each other within the ‘island’ areas.

“We’re a city of people who look out for each other, and that shone through in the days following the Kaikōura earthquake. The time may come that we have to face reality of being a city without water. When that day comes I have every confidence that our councils and our communities will work together and keep water flowing from these new above ground water stations.”

A new above ground network will stand-alone from a network of around 2,000 kilometres of buried pipes. More than 70 per cent of the underground drinking water network is likely to fail in an earthquake of 7.5 or stronger.

The community water stations are strategically located in parks, schools, and roadsides across emergency response ‘islands’.

The design of the network assumes the worst from a major quake. Since late 2015 Wellington Water has investigated the likely impacts of a major quake. Emergency response modelling used inputs from across central and local government to model the effects of debris, landslides, inaccessible roads, tsunami, and liquefaction across the four cities.

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