Prince of Wales Park reservoir moves ahead on council work plan

24 June 2016

A 35 million litre reservoir, enough to fill 14 Olympic swimming pools and planned for a knoll above the playing fields at Prince of Wales Park, is getting closer for Wellington City

The reservoir has been in Council's long term plan since 2012.

The new reservoir will provide a significant increase in water storage available to nearby Wellington Hospital in the event that supply lines are disrupted.

“A reservoir of this size is going to make a significant contribution to the city's resilience,” says Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. “It’s important that the public has confidence that good progress on this reservoir project is being made.

“Planning and construction of water infrastructure is a fundamental part of local government and the region's resilience and engineering experts are working well together.”

Councillor Iona Pannett, Wellington City’s Three Waters portfolio leader, says the resource consent application to excavate, build and then bury the concrete tank will be lodged by this November, which could see construction starting mid-late 2017. 

“Public consultation is essential as this will be located in our precious Town Belt, although it will be sympathetically landscaped,” says Cr Pannett. “We've also identified resilient pipes as a key component of the strategy, so this the project is a big win for building a more resilient city and region.”

Wellington City Council and Capital and Coast District Health will work closely together to ensure the disaster recovery benefits of the reservoir are prioritised.

Planning for the new reservoir first started in the 1970s. Preliminary design work to the latest infrastructure standards was completed in 2013.

At that stage, the option of installing a pipeline across Wellington Harbour was proposed as an alternative to deliver some of the benefits that the reservoir offers. This is still being investigated as an additional supply resilience option, among other work.  The increased storage offered by the reservoir has seen it confirmed for construction.

As with the recently completed 2.2 million litre reservoir on Mount Albert, the new reservoir is designed for a 100-year working life and to retain water after a 1000-year seismic event, similar to that of a Wellington Fault Event.  

Chief Resilience Officer Mike Mendonça, who is currently working on a resilience strategy for Wellington, agrees that both large reservoirs and immediate storage facilities for critical places including hospitals and prisons are essential. At a household level, Wellington City has purchased over 1400 200-litre emergency water in the last six weeks. All levels are important.

The Hospital Prince of Wales reservoir will be excavated and almost completely buried in the ground above the upper sports field of the Prince of Wales Park. 

It will be built to infrastructure standards for post disaster recovery and will play a key role in improving Wellington’s water supply resilience, which is vulnerable to earthquake shocks because of the distance between water sources in the Hutt Valley and Wellington’s central and eastern suburbs.

Under normal conditions, it will supply the surrounding area and meet increasing demands for water in the central business district. This is currently served by a nine million litre reservoir on Bell Road, which is now over 100 years old.

The new reservoir is expected to cost around $25 million, including additional pipelines. Consultation prior to lodging the consent will begin next month.