Mt Somers water woes

Duncan Humm of Mt Somers.
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Mt Somers residents are blaming the district council for poor infrastructure planning after being issued with a conserve water notice.

On January 22 the district council moved from Level 3 hosing restrictions up to Level 5 restrictions. Level 5 is equivalent to a conserve water notice and means water use is restricted to the purposes of drinking, washing, cooking and other essential domestic, commercial and industrial tasks.

A subsequent drop in water use enabled restrictions two days later to ease to Level 4, which means there is a hosing ban. Restrictions eased again on January 29, lowering to Level 3, which means hosing is permitted on alternate days, between 6pm and midnight.

Resident Duncan Humm said the district council some years ago had raised concerns about there being no surplus of water in the system.

“Fast forward to today, and the council have allowed more sections to be built without adding to the capacity of water available,” Humm said.

Fellow residents have aired their frustrations on social media.

‘‘It’s wonderful having all the new housing etc and people that come with it but the council has failed the town by not making sure there is infrastructure to support it,’’ said one woman.

‘‘From the top of my head I can count 15 plus sections in Mt Somers that are for sale, coming on sale or sold already that are yet to be built on that will put more pressure on our water supply, ridiculous,’’ said another.

Group manager infrastructure and open spaces Neil McCann said work on a new Mt Somers water treatment plant was on track. It would raise the reservoir capacity from 125 to 240 cubic metres when completed in a few months’ time. In addition, the district council’s Long Term Plan will include a proposed budget to investigate other sources for the Mt Somers water supply. This work is planned for 2025-2026.

McCann did not directly answer a question from The Ashburton Courier as to whether the district council had poorly planned water infrastructure around development of more homes in the town.

McCann said the district council had found some excessive consumption of water at times, particularly this January.

“If someone decides to fill their swimming pool from the drinking water supply, then that will drain a considerable amount from the reservoir.

“These smaller urban supplies were designed for domestic use and usually come under pressure when the weather has been as hot as it has been. There is water for all, and people need to use it wisely and considerately during those times,” McCann said.