Water Scheme Alarm

Former Regional Cr warns of contamination in KCDC river recharge plan

By Alan Tristram

Former regional councillor Chris Turver warns the Kāpiti District Council’s river recharge plan for summer droughts may cause gradual saltwater contamination of pure underground aquifers.

He’s calling for an urgent review of the $14million recharge plan. He says it depends too much on a heavy ‘draw-down’ from the underground aquifers during drought to recharge the volume of water in the Waikanae river.

Productive bore threatened

He says a consultant’s report recommending closure of one of the most productive and cleanest bores (K13), now showing signs of saltwater contamination, signals a more serious long-term problem.

The KCDC has confirmed it will close the K13 bore in Huiawa Street, Waikanae Beach, but says the risk of saline intrusion is low and will be restricted to the coastal fringe.

He says the KCDC’s admission that one bore is being shut down is a frightening because, once started, saline intrusion is hard to stop.

Mr Turver, who chaired the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s resource consent hearing in late 2004 which granted the KCDC the right to put down the original eight production wells, says the hearing committee built in safeguards to limit the chances of saltwater contamination.

More bores planned

But since then the KCDC has put down more bores and is planning to drill at least a further three large-capacity bores  as part of its river recharge plan.

Mr Turver says it’s of particular concern that a KCDC report discloses that the three main aquifer systems in the Waikanae Groundwater Zone are inter-connected, which means that saltwater contamination  in one aquifer could spread into the others.

“If that happens, then the worst-case scenario if the river recharge plan goes ahead is that the quality of one or more of the aquifers is gradually compromised and the water could eventually become undrinkable,” says Mr Turver.

The KCDC is soon to lodge a resource consent application with Greater Wellington Regional Council for an increased ‘take’ from the bore-field for the river recharge system.

Mr Turver says the KCDC will have to prove convincingly that saltwater contamination would not be a problem.

The KCDC has already signalled that some private shallow household bores in the area could lose water in times of drought as the aquifer levels fall through draw-down from the production wells.



It is not worth gambling with our resources, we need to look longterm and sustainable.
Its not rocket science. Bring on the Dam !!

Oh yes, forgot to add-
In summation, why not just put ratepayers money into something we we can see where our money has gone, that has no possibility of being affected by salt water intrusion, will not be impinged upon by any Maori claim, does not affect aquifer levels, can also be used for electricity generation, will create an aquatic amenity, and is inevitably required in the future- given the high growth rate of this area – a dam.

Given that our Mayor once stated ” We may have to prepare for 2 metre sea level rise…” and the recently announced coastal management plan also is based upon rising sea levels as yet of an unknown amount, then salt water intrusion is highly possible given sea level rise altering the current balance of sea and underground aquifer levels, so who can be sure that the major investment in river recharge system is not another waste of ratepayers money?
The track record of KCDC is to lead us down a path where major cost overruns are then placed upon the ratepayer.
Secondly, if pumping from our aquifers affects current bore users by lowering their levels or causing salinisation, who compensates them? Why does ‘new-kid-on-the-block’ KCDC have greater rights to use aquifer water over current users?
Thirdly given current Maori water rights claims, will it be contested in court whether KCDC has rights to pump water in preference to Maori claims.