Morrinsville water shortage – be prepared

Sunday morning’s loss of water in Morrinsville brought home once again the importance of being able to support yourself for three days, including having sufficient water and food, in case of natural disaster or other serious interruption to Council services.

The rupture of a main line, which left most of the town short of water or on low pressure for several hours on Sunday, was a timely reminder for us all to plan for the unexpected, said Matamata-Piako District Mayor Jan Barnes.

She thanked residents for their patience while staff dealt with the problem. “We really appreciate all the good thoughts that were extended on social media and in media comments. People generally realise that some things are not foreseeable.

“There are many things that can happen to interrupt the supply. We have good levels of emergency storage, emergency electrical supply to our treatment plant, different pipes feeding the town and alarms for early warning. But there is always going to be things that happen or natural events beyond our control that will mean from time to time we will need to be able to cater for ourselves for possibly several days.” 

The council dealt with more than 350 phone calls over a couple of hours and more than 100 comments on its Facebook page during Sunday morning after many residents woke to water down to a trickle. The break was tracked to Scott Road, near the Mt Misery Reservoir, cutting supply to the town in half.

Council staff were able to divert flow through another pipe supplying town while the first pipe was repaired, which effectively resumed water supply to most of the town by mid-morning. Both pipelines were returned to normal pressure by the evening.

Mayor Jan said Council had contingencies in place on the day, including having water tankers on standby, and liaising with commercial water users to reduce demand on mains water.

“Both of Morrinsville’s largest factories, Fonterra and Greenlea Meats, were superb in their willingness to immediately reduce demand,” Mayor Jan said. “This helps enormously and while I am sure it’s inconvenient for them at short notice, they never hesitate to cooperate whenever things like this happen.

“The farmer over whose property the line runs was extremely helpful in allowing our excavator in there and our thanks must go to him for allowing us very quick access to what was a major break,” Mayor Jan said.

“We have processes in place for this sort of situation. If the main pipe from Waterworks Road, which brings water to the reservoir from Te Miro Forest Park, is broken, we have at least two-day’s supply on restricted consumption. But in the end it’s still important to keep three days of water and food stored for an emergency.”

For more details on how to prepare for an emergency, see Civil Defence’s Happens website.