Ashburton District Council will fast track plans for a new water treatment plant in Methven and has awarded a contract to build two new reservoirs at the existing treatment plant.
Detailed design work on a single treatment plant for the Methven and Methven Springfield water schemes will start immediately and could take nine months to complete.
The project will cost $7.7million, but council has brought forward physical works budgets so that key components can purchased earlier and shipped.
At the same time a well option will also be explored to see if an alternative supply can be found over the next six months.
A third party has approached council to take on the risk of searching for a suitable bore and council has an option to buy it at a fixed price if it is viable.
The bore option is expected to cost less than the proposed treatment plant and council will identify sites on its own land and near the treatment plant for the third party to explore.
Council assets manager Andrew Guthrie told councillors at last week’s meeting that design work on the proposed treatment plant could be pivoted to use a deep water source, if one was found.
He said the membrane plant was the “gold standard” solution and offered water surety.
There were clear operational and financial benefits to combining the Methven and Methven Springfield schemes and creating a single plant.
Both galleries were shallow and at risk of variability from the source water, as had been seen during recent flooding, but bolting on a membrane would reduce that risk significantly.
Mr Guthrie told councillors that a groundwater source idea had been raised previously but consultants had not been confident it was viable.
While the probability of success was low, finding a bore would be “a significant win”.
Councillor Angus McKay said he believed exploring a well was a good idea and he wanted to “see geology proved wrong”.
A bore had been found in Mayfield and at no expense to the ratepayer and it had used local knowledge.
Cr McKay said he also believed the Methven Springfield intake was etter sited nearer to the bush and mountains rather than in the middle of a livestock farm where it was currently located.
He suggested the stock water scheme at Spaxton as an alternative.
“Let’s tidy things up once and for all,” he said.
Cr McKay’s request that the transfer of the Methven Springfield scheme take point, to the Spaxton take point be investigated by staff was approved by councillors.
In a later closed meeting council awarded a contract to Reliant Solutions to build two new reservoirs at the existing treatment plant 4km from Methven.
The contract, worth $1.7 million, involves earthworks, pipe laying, access tracks and fencing and installation of the reservoirs. The construction and installation is expected to take nine months and the new tanks are made of special glass-fused steel.
-By Mick Jensen