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​Ruakaka water treatment plant shutdown

This page contains information about last week's shutdown of the Ruakaka water treatment plant.
Updated: 16/02/2018 2:58 p.m.

Council would like to thank the public and businesses affected by last week’s shut-down of the Ruakaka water treatment plant (WTP) for their patience and help with conserving water. 

Thanks to everyone’s participation, nobody was without water.

Council’s General Manager Infrastructure - Simon Weston, said that there would be an investigation into the incident and it was most likely to have been caused by the quality of water entering the treatment plant from the Ruakaka river.

“The Water team noticed problems during the early hours of Tuesday morning (9 January) and decided that the plant would have to be shut-down as the incoming water turbidity (cloudiness) was too high to process the water effectively,” he said.

Water comes into the treatment plant and goes through a mixing process and is then clarified before going to the plants filters. The clarifier settles the water, with clearer water coming to the top and sediment going to the bottom of the tank, before water goes to the filters.

“In this case, the water in the clarifiers was so dirty it could not settle out, which blocked the filters with sediment," Mr Weston said.

The Ruakaka, Waipu and Langs Beach area is supplied with water from two water treatment plants, the Ruakaka and the Ahuroa plants. The Ruakaka treatment plants can take water from Wilson’s Dam or the Ruakaka river, depending on dam levels, time of year and water quality. 

We are working with the Northland Regional Council regarding the Ruakaka river quality.

“In order to get the Ruakaka plant back online, we had to empty the clarifiers, clean them out, clean out all the filters and then re-fill the clarifiers. The water then had to settle before it could be processed."

Water production came back online with one clarifier working at 8.05pm on Tuesday evening and the team worked into the night to get a second filter working the next day. Full production was resumed and reservoirs are slowly filling again. It will take several days to get the reservoirs back to full capacity.

“We appreciate any ongoing conservation measures that people can adopt over the next few days.

“The Ruakaka river is normally a stable water source, so this is an unusual occurrence. We are very grateful to residents and businesses who took notice of the need to conserve water and to Refining NZ who also played a large part in conserving water and providing us with people and equipment to get the plant back up and running as quickly as possible," Mr Weston said.

Conserve water

Water conservation tips

The issue at Ruakaka’s water treatment plant is a good reminder to always be water wise. In Whangarei, we have not had to introduce water restrictions for some time so it is easy to be complacent.

Rain during the first week in January has ensured our dam levels (and people’s private water tanks) are high.

Inside, simple things like turning the tap off when brushing your teeth and shortening your showers can make a difference. Water use outside should be limited as much as you can and watering gardens in the early morning or evening ensures your plants get the most of the water you use.

For more information go to the Be Water Wise website (link below):

Be Water Wise



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