Water  |  29 Aug 2019

Check here for the latest information on the work being done to return water in Christchurch to an unchlorinated state.

Thursday, 12 September

The Christchurch and Lyttelton Basin Water Safety Plan is on track to be submitted to the Drinking Water Assessor for approval by the end of this month.

The plan has been developed with input from the Canterbury District Health Board, the Ministry of Health, City Care, and Council staff.

To meet the submission deadline, completed chapters of the plan are being sent for external peer review. Feedback from the external reviewers is due by 23 September.

Once the Water Safety Plan is submitted to the Drinking Water Assessor, it will be reviewed by a panel of experts determined by the Ministry of Health. The review could take up to three months.

In the meantime, the Council will continue work on upgrading the city’s well heads. To date, 77 of 140 have been upgraded.

Thursday, 29 August

At its meeting today the Council considered an update report about the drinking water supply and made a number of resolutions, including the following.

  • The Council confirmed it would continue to oppose changes to the regulatory policy for drinking water that would require permanent chlorination and, if such a provision was introduced, it would seek an exemption for the Christchurch and Lyttelton Harbour Basin water supplies.
  • The Council confirmed its desire to remove any temporary chlorine dosing from the Christchurch water supply with urgency, with the exception being chlorine required in any emergency situation, as per the current Water Safety Plan.
  • The Council requested that staff seek confirmation from the Ministry of Health that the Christchurch and Lyttelton Harbour Basin Water Safety Plan will be approved by Christmas 2019.
  • The Council requested that staff seek an explanation from the Ministry of Health as to why the Drinking Water Assessor has been directed to no longer sign off the Council’s upgraded well heads.
  • The Council requested that the Mayor meet with the Minister of Health and Ministry officials to seek an undertaking that once the Christchurch and Lyttelton Harbour Basin Water Safety Plan is approved, it will be able to stand for five years without any increase in requirements. 

Watch the full discussion of the report

Tuesday, 27 August

We are preparing an updated Water Safety Plan to demonstrate that we can meet the Government’s new drinking water regulations and manage the risk of contamination without the need for permanent chlorination.

We are due to deliver our new Water Safety Plan to the Ministry of Health at the end of next month. It will then take two to three months to review it.

While we work to meet the new requirements, some of the city’s water supply will continue to be treated with a low dose of chlorine.

Find out more.

Thursday, 2 August

Christchurch City Council has welcomed the Government’s move to introduce new regulations and a dedicated watchdog to ensure people’s drinking water is safe.

Find out more.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Council today received an update report on actions taken following the independent review into bore water security last year by former assistant auditor-general Bruce Robertson.

The report noted “considerable progress” had been made in addressing the findings and conclusions of Mr Robertson’s review, which was first considered by the Council last November.

It also noted the Council was in a stronger position to meet any upcoming challenges from future drinking water standards and regulatory changes.

The Council resolved to:

  • Request staff report on central government proposals in relation to any new drinking water safety regimes, and to continue monitoring the role of quality assurance and compliance within the Three Waters and Waste Unit and wider organisation.
  • Request staff make explicit in all of the arrangements relating to the drinking water safety regime the importance of the security of our drinking water supply.
  • Invite local Members of Parliament to discuss the new drinking water safety regime and other water matters with elected members and brief them on progress.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

We have installed a second drinking water fill station at our Burnside pump station beside the Burnside Park Tennis Club, 336 Avonhead Road. People can enjoy free spring water drawn from a depth of 200 metres, tested daily to make sure it meets New Zealand's Drinking Water Standards, and untreated with chlorine. A second fill station is available at the Keyes Road pump station in New Brighton, opposite 374 Keyes Road.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Last year, when we first began treating the city’s water supply with chlorine, 48 of our 53 pump stations were being dosed at 1 part per million (ppm).

Today, only seven pump stations are being dosed at 1 ppm, 31 at 0.5 ppm, and 13 are completely chlorine free. So there is less than half the amount of chlorine being used today, and we are rapidly reducing this as upgrades are completed and secure wells come back into service.

Most people should notice a marked improvement in the taste of their drinking water.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Water restrictions for Christchurch and Lyttelton Harbour have been lifted. Find out more.

Monday, 6 March 2019

Christchurch’s drinking water could be chlorine free as soon as the end of July.

The Council will this week consider a report outlining options around continuing chlorine treatment of its water supply.

Seventy-five per cent of the water supply is expected to be chlorine free by the end of this month, which marks one year since chlorine treatment began to allow the upgrading of the city’s 140 below-ground well heads.

Find out more.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The Council has decided to provide lobby group Aotearoa Water Action (AWA) with a $50,000 grant towards the legal costs of its High Court action. 

Water coming out of a tap.AWA is seeking High Court judgements that Environment Canterbury’s decision making process under the Resource Management Act for two resource consents issued to commercial water bottling companies, Cloud Ocean Water Limited and Rapaki Natural Resources Limited, was unlawful.

Find out more.

Friday, 5 April 2019

About 90 per cent of Christchurch’s water supply is expected to be chlorine-free by the end of next month.

At present, up to 30 per cent of the water supplied to the urban area is no longer being treated.

The well head improvement programme has been boosted by water restrictions and cooler weather reducing the demand for water.

The water supply is forecast to be completely chlorine-free by spring this year. To date, 42 out of 140 wells have been upgraded and signed off as secure. Improvement works are under way or scheduled for a further 54 wells over the winter months.

At present, 11 pump stations – out of 53 across the city – are fed by secure wells and do not require chlorine treatment.

Friday, 1 March 2019

From Monday 4 March, level three water restrictions will be introduced across Christchurch to help keep water use down while critical work is done to upgrade the city’s well heads. The restrictions will apply from Monday 4 March until Friday 31 May 2019.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Council Water Supply Improvement Programme Manager Helen Beaumont has prepared a report for Thursday’s Council meeting which recommends introducing level three water restrictions.

Level three water restrictions permit people to water their gardens on alternate days only, using hand-held hoses. Unattended hoses, sprinklers or garden irrigation systems cannot be used when level three restrictions are in place.

You can find out more about why she is recommending restrictions here.

Friday, 11 January 2019

With the clock ticking on the Council’s self-imposed deadline to end temporary chlorination of the water supply within 12 months, Water Supply Improvement Programme Manager Helen Beaumont provides an update on how the work is tracking. Read what she has to say

Wednesday, 19 December

The Council has upgraded 38 of 140 well heads to date, meaning 25 per cent of the city's drinking water is currently chlorine free.

Well head upgrades have been completed at Burnside and Hills, with minor works still to be done at Farrington and Grampian. Work has also begun this week on well heads at Denton, Dunbars and Brooklands.

All water supply upgrade work will pause over the Christmas–New Year period and resume mid-January.

The Council will provide an indicative timeframe for the upgrading of all below-ground well heads – and dates for the removal of chlorine – in February 2019.

Tuesday, 27 November

Read the third installment in our Busting the myths about water series.

Thursday, 22 November

Up to $2 million will be spent on carrying out interim remediation work on dozens of the city’s below ground well heads.

Christchurch City Council has today given the go ahead for interim remediation work to be done on up to 42 below ground well heads that tap into flowing artesian aquifers where the risk of contamination is low. Find out more.

Tuesday, 20 November

Are we running out of water? Is our water supply network too small? Today we address these questions and more in the second of our Water Myths Busted series.

Thursday, 15 November

A $2 million quick-fix option is being considered for dozens of Christchurch’s below ground well heads so that chlorine can be removed from the city’s water supply as soon as possible.

At its meeting next week the Council will consider a report which recommends it undertake interim upgrades on up to 42 below ground well heads that tap into flowing artesian aquifers where the risk of contamination is low.

Find out more.

Wednesday, 14 November

We’ve had lots of feedback about why we are asking people to conserve water at the same time as a bottling company is being allowed to bottle it. To dispel some of the myths on the issue we've published Busting the myths about our water on Newsline.  

Tuesday, 13 November

An online colour coded dial has been set up to track how much water the city is using each day. The aim this summer is to keep water use under 212 litres a day, per person. If that happens work can continue on the well head work and we can avoid the need for water restrictions.

Find out more.

Thursday, 8 November

The Council has today endorsed a staff response to Environment Canterbury opposing Cloud Ocean Water Limited’s consent application to take water from a second bore on the grounds it could impact negatively on the city’s drinking water supplies.

Find out more.

Wednesday, 31 October

If you're curious about what's involved in upgrading our well heads, check out our simple video animation which explains the process.

Tuesday, 23 October

The temporary chlorination of Christchurch’s water supply is being linked with an increase in hot water cylinder failures. Today we answer some of the commonly asked questions about the issue. Read more.

Tuesday, 16 October

An external review into the events leading up to the loss of the secure status for Christchurch’s water supply has been released today.

You can find out more about the review and its findings here.

Thursday, 11 October

Work is progressing well on our well head conversion programme. Last week we went out to tender to convert below ground to above ground well heads at five sites as part of Stage Two of the well head upgrade programme.

The five sites are: Brooklands, Trafalger, Lake Terrace, Denton and Dunbars. The tender for the works will close at the end of this month with work to start later this year.

Kainga well head conversion is continuing with the new above ground well scheduled to be operational from November 9. Work is also underway at Hills Road, Burnside, and Grampian pump stations, with completion scheduled for the end of November. Farrington works will start early November.

The chart below shows you the progress on reducing temporary chlorination across our pump stations.

Wednesday, 12 September

Work will start at the Burnside pump station next week to convert the below ground well head to an above ground well head.

The contractor will be on-site this week to carry out set-up work, including fencing, signage and sediment erosion control.

The well head conversion will take about 55 days and aims to ensure the continued supply of secure drinking water.

Following completion, there will be no need to temporarily chlorinate the water at this site when all wells are in use.

The Burnside pump station supplies water to about a fifth of the homes in Christchurch’s north-west zone. It pumps out about 1.8 million cubic metres of water annually.

Contractors are also working to convert the well heads at the Kainga pump station, with work expected to be finished in mid-October.

 Wednesday, 5 September

Work has been completed on a new pump station in the city’s north-west.

The Gardiners Pump Station is located within Harewood Park and is an example of the water supply improvement work under way across the city.

The new pump station’s two deep wells replace the existing shallow well at Harewood and, with each well having a capacity of 50 litres a second, will provide for growth within the north west zone, particularly the expanding Highstead and Upper Styx areas.

To find out more watch the video below.

Thursday, 23 August

The Council has given its approval for $2.3 million to be spent on installing a UV disinfection system at the Mains Pump station at the south end of Colombo St.

UV improves the safety of the water without impacting on the taste. Once the system is installed and commissioned, the Council will be able to stop chlorinating the water at the Mains Pump station.

The station takes water from six wells and feeds about 11 per cent of the central water zone. The aim is to have the UV disinfection system installed within 10 to 12 months.

Tuesday, 21 August 

We have stopped chlorinating the Thompsons water pump station in the north west zone, bringing the total number of pump stations not being chlorinated to 10.

We have been able to stop chlorinating the water at Thompsons because we have been able to isolate the below ground well heads.

Friday, 17 August

A $2 million investment in ultra-violet (UV) light disinfection could bring an end to chlorination at Christchurch’s largest water supply pump station.

Next Thursday the Council will consider a report that recommends installing UV light disinfection at the water supply pump station at the south end of Colombo Street.

Find out more.

Monday, 13 August

Chlorine treatment has stopped at a further three pump stations — Grampian, Lake Terrace and Hills — in the city.

Now that the below ground well heads have been isolated, unchlorinated water can be supplied from the secure above ground well heads at these pump stations.

Hills supplies about 9000 people, and Lake Terrace and Grampian each supply about 1500 people.

The actual number supplied by any pump station depends on demand and how many pump stations are operating across the network.

Nine pump stations across the city are not being treated with chlorine, although as demand increases the Council may need to start using below ground well heads. If that is the case, the water will need to be chlorinated.

Wednesday, 8 August

Work to improve the security of the Christchurch’s water supply is moving forward, with the approach confirmed for upgrading 72 of the city’s wells.

Good progress is being made on the initial round of work on 23 wells at seven pump stations which will allow chlorination to stop at those pump stations. There is now a confirmed approach for a further 49 wells at 17 pump stations.

Tuesday, 31 July

Chlorine treatment has been stopped at the Burnside and Farrington pump stations in the north-west supply zone.

This is the result of minor remedial work on the above ground well heads to enable them to be signed off as secure.

Friday, 20 July

We’ve added some new layers to our chlorine map and created a new section on our website for water supply projects.

The map now shows you where the well heads are and which ones are included in the first stage of works.

On the water supply projects section you’ll find information about new wells and pump stations, well head improvements, and alternative disinfection methods.

Tuesday, 10 July

Minor remedial works are being carried out on 23 above ground well heads, at seven pump stations, to enable these well heads to be signed off as a secure. We expect the works to be completed and inspections undertaken by the end of this month.

An isolation procedure has been agreed for the remaining below ground well heads which will allow chlorination to cease, early in August, at these pump stations:

  • Burnside, Grampian, Thompsons and Farrington in the North West supply zone.
  • Hills and Lake Terrace in the Central zone.
  • Woolston in the Ferrymead zone.

Investigations have shown that ultra violet (UV) light disinfection is feasible and we are assessing the costs and benefits of using UV at a number of pump stations.

Preliminary design work has been completed for UV disinfection at Main Pumps, in Beckenham, in the central supply zone. A report will go to the next meeting of the Council’s Infrastructure, Transport and Environment Committee recommending the Council seek tenders for the work.

Thursday, 28 June

We've been looking into alternatives to chlorine such as ozone and UV light treatment.

We have rejected ozone as a suitable disinfection agent because our analysis has determined it is incompatible with the chemical composition of our groundwater.

Ultra violet (UV) light is an option we are pursuing and we are assessing the costs and benefits of using UV at a number of pump stations.

Preliminary design work is under way for UV disinfection at Main Pumps in the Central zone. Subject to costs and availability of equipment, this is proposed for construction to begin late 2018.

Tuesday, 26 June

A further two pump stations have been identified where below ground wells can be isolated and unchlorinated water provided from above ground well heads.

The new sites are at Lake Terrace in Burwood, and Thompsons Road in Northwood.

It is possible that if demand increases, or in the event of a fire, we may need to start using the below ground well heads and then the water would need to be chlorinated.

Thursday, 14 June

Council is targeting work on further pump stations to improve well head security in order to stop chlorinating the water at those pump stations.

The pump stations involved have a mix of above ground and below ground well heads. 

The pump stations identified for remedial works are: Grampian, Farrington, Burnside, Grassmere, Hills and Mays.

Learn more.

Friday, 8 June

Due to public interest in the amount of physical work that has been done on the city’s water infrastructure since it lost its secure status, here is a summary of work done:

Between January and May, minor remedial work has been done to improve safety and security at 22 of our 53 pump stations that were assessed as having the highest risk of contamination to below ground well heads.  This work varied across the sites and generally included:

  • Installing new aprons outside well heads to force water away from the well
  • Installing new cabinets, power cables and sample taps
  • Lining internal walls
  • Re-grading the floor
  • Repositioning air valves so they are above the flood level
  • Repairing leaks on fittings
  • Replacing sump pumps.

While these works reduce the risk of contamination, they are not sufficient to meet the new, stricter, interpretation of the standards for well head security. These pump stations and well heads are included in the future work programme to determine the best approach to allow us to return to an unchlorinated water supply.

Work has also been done at our new pump stations, with above ground well heads, across the city. There are four pump stations with 11 well heads that, while designed to best practice, would not have meet the stringent new standards being upheld. These were assessed in January and remedial works have been completed.

All 11 well heads have now been signed off as secure and the water supplied by the four pump stations (Prestons, Estuary, Keyes and Gardiners) is not being chlorinated.

We are continuing our ongoing work to reduce the impact of the chlorination.

As well as flushing pipes with fresh water to remove the natural organic matter that causes the smell and taste, we are managing the dose level and reducing it where we have been given approval to do so. We are also looking at measures to increase the use and capacity of our non-chlorinated sites so there is a greater quantity of untreated water in the network.

Thursday, 7 June

Council Chief Executive Karleen Edwards has created a new role to focus exclusively on improvements to the drinking water supply.

For the next 12 months, Helen Beaumont will be in the role of Programme Manager – Water Supply Improvement reporting directly to the chief executive. This is a secondment from her current role as Head of Strategic Policy. 

Find out more.

Thursday, 31 May

We've updated our pump station map to colour-code the stations that are not being treated ‑ Estuary, Keyes and Prestons. These appear green while the others standard blue.

As we work through the process of changing the dose rate at pump stations this information will be added. It will take a few weeks to implement the change. The status of those pump stations will also be differentiated in a different shade so you can see at a glance what's happening across the network.

We are still working to get the test results added to the map and hope to be able to do this soon.

Wednesday, 30 May

You might have heard about, or read, an article on the Newstalk ZB website about our decision to reduce the chlorination dose rate at some pump stations, which included  some statements from Medical Officer of Health Ramon Pink.

Dr Pink is unhappy with the way his lengthy interview was presented and has been on air this morning to clarify his statements. 

As we announced earlier this week (see below) we have an agreement with the Drinking Water Assessor to reduce the amount of chlorine at pump stations where we have a contact time of two minutes. We are targeting a rate of 0.5 parts per million where we have two minutes' contact time.

 Monday, 28 May

 Christchurch City Council is starting to lower the amount of chlorine it is putting in the water at some of the city’s pump stations in an attempt to address taste and smell issues.

 “We have already been given approval by the Drinking Water Assessor to reduce the dose of chlorine at 27 of the 53 pump stations that are being treated,’’ says Council General Manager City Services David Adamson.

This will reduce the overall concentration of chlorine in the drinking water.

“We are hoping reducing the dose will help with the taste and smell issues that some people have been experiencing but until we roll this out we cannot make promises.

“The advice we have had from our independent expert suggests the lower dose could reduce the taste and smell issues, but there is a chance it may not make a significant difference.

"That being said, both our expert and the Drinking Water Assessor believe the potential benefits outweigh that risk and it is worth shifting to a lower dose where we can,'' Mr Adamson says.

The 27 pump stations where the Council will be lowering dose have been selected because they are in areas where the water travels down the pipes for at least two minutes before reaching people’s homes.

That two minute lag is important because it allows enough time for the chlorine to be effective at a lower dose.

At the other pump stations the chlorine only has a minute’s contact time with the water before people start drawing on it so the dose needs to remain at current levels, until alternative measures can be put in place.

"There is some work to be done at each of the affected pump stations in order to change the dose so the lower dosage will be rolled out progressively over the next couple of weeks. We'll be updating our online map to indicate the dose rate at each pump station.

“We will be closely monitoring the impact of reducing the chlorine dosage and will continue to have ongoing discussions with the Drinking Water Assessor about how we can reduce the amount of chlorine in the network,’’ Mr Adamson says.

“This week we will also be continuing the work we are doing to flush the pipes with high pressure water in the suburbs that seem to be noticing the taste and smell of chlorine the most. Hopefully that too will help reduce the short-term taste and smell issues.

“Longer term we are looking at a range of options including treating the water with ultra-violet or ozone. We are prioritizing our well head improvement work on those pump stations where we are most likely to get approval to stop chlorinating. We are also looking at water demand and the way we use the network so that we can provide as many people as possible with unchlorinated water,’’ Mr Adamson says.