Following a hearing in March, the panel has recommended the project goes ahead. This would see construction of a 35 million-litre reservoir — enough to fill 14 Olympic swimming pools — above the playing fields at Prince of Wales Park in Mt Cook.
The project is a key plank in the city’s resilience strategy to ensure fresh water is available to residents after a natural disaster and as the population grows. The reservoir will also provide a significant increase in water storage for the city. In the event supply pipes are disrupted, this would take it from having less than a day’s worth of supply to approximately 48-hours’ worth.
It is one of a number of projects being consulted on in the Council’s 10-Year Plan to improve security for the city’s water supply.
The panel described the reservoir as a necessity and said Wellington City Council and Wellington Water had gone through a rigorous site selection process, including full analysis of alternatives sites. The independent commissioners were appointed by the Council.
Work is anticipated to take up to three years to complete. The notice contains a very comprehensive list of conditions which will be actively monitored by the Council’s Compliance Monitoring team.
The next step — following a 15-day appeal period which started on 8 May — will see the project included into the Wellington City District Plan.
Councillor Iona Pannett, the Council’s Three Waters portfolio leader, says it is very positive to see progress on the project.
“I know this will be disruptive to the local community, but it is a vital project to ensure Wellington can recover after a major event. It will also benefit the area in the medium to long term future.
“There is a list of 43 conditions imposed by the panel which will mitigate the impacts from the project, one of which is the establishment of a Community Reference Group and a community liaison person for the duration of the project and the council is committed to working with the community to get the best outcome for Mt Cook.”
Planning for the new reservoir first started in the 1970s. Preliminary design work to the latest infrastructure standards was completed in 2013. The construction start date will be able to be confirmed after funding approval is confirmed as part of the 10-Year Plan process.
Wellington Water and Wellington City Council have been leading a community engagement programme over the last two years to take into account concerns and issues arising out of this major project. The project received approval under the Town Belt Act in August last year.
Wellington Water Chief Executive Colin Crampton says: “The Omāroro reservoir is a cornerstone project for ensuring we can continue supplying customers with safe water as the city grows, and in the event of a major supply disruption. We look forward to continuing community involvement in the project as it moves forward.”