Local Government Magazine

Low River Contingency Project is highly commended

Chorus Excellence Award for Best Practice in Infrastructure Management (H.C.1) Featured Image

At the 2016 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards

Chorus Excellence Award for Best Practice in Infrastructure Management.

Highly Commended: Hamilton City Council’s ‘Low River Contingency Project’

Hamilton City Council took an innovative, and economic, approach to its interim solution to ensure a continued water supply for the city. The Low River Contingency Project resulted in the development of a new floating pumping platform on the Waikato River.

Judges praised it as “a smart project, led by council staff, that has provided long-term drinking water security for the city”.

In 2015/16 falling river levels and climate effects were threatening to compromise the city’s ability to take water from the river, the city’s sole access to water.

Hamilton’s treatment plant receives water through a fixed intake structure which is compromised if river levels drop below it. In three of the last four summers the city has been very close to an emergency contingency plan to pump water using hired equipment. Amending the intake structures was estimated at $26 million and would expose the city to further risk because water supplies would be compromised, if not halted, during construction.

The decision was taken to construct the pumping platform capable of maintaining water supply to the city during periods of low river levels. Hamilton has one of the fastest-growing populations in New Zealand and this solution had to be scalable to allow for increased water demand over the next 15 years and to be ready, if needed, in 12 months.

Design and construction hurdles needed to be overcome and the platform needed to integrate with existing infrastructure.

The alternative floating pumping platform option was completed for $2.5 million, well under its $3.5 million budget, and lifted into place in March 2016. As well as avoiding the need for expensive capital works for another 15 years, it met the Ministry for the Environment’s key principles in addressing climate change.

This article was first published in the August 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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