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MANGAWHAI'S NO.1 NEWSPAPER

Summer leaves Mangawhai high and dry

 

BY JULIA WADE

5 MF-Waterwoes1-426-428In almost a rerun of two years ago, Mangawhai has again been left high and dry from the ongoing rainless weather conditions, and H20 sources being shut down to the area. 


Despite recent downpours bringing some respite, filling tanks and replenishing the earth to a shallow degree, the area still faces the ongoing problem due to limited water resources.

The long dry spell saw local household tanks bordering on empty with up to a three week wait for water deliveries, and even Mangawhai Beach School faced closure due to the lack of available water for sanitary use. 

Kaiwaka’s public bathroom facilities and the town’s petrol station toilet were also temporarily closed. 

Mangawhai’s main water source comes from a locally owned bore and Wellsford’s WaterCare (WWC) filling station, managed by Auckland Council (AC). However the bore has been running slow and AC recently closed WWC to Mangawhai carriers due to high demand, giving priority to Wellsford’s own local residents and tankers. 

Warkworth filling station is still open and available to carriers due to a new water treatment plant being commissioned last year. 
Mangawhai’s water carriers have been doing their best to supply water to residents despite the closures. 

Owners of The Waterboy, Ben and Hannah Gardner say they are now ‘biting the bullet’ and are trucking in water from Ruakaka despite the extra cost to the company. However they have decided not to pass on the cost to customers Hannah says, as it ‘wouldn’t be viable for some people who can’t afford it’. 

“We have had some major issues this summer with the supply of water, our bore is very slow and Wellsford has been shut now for four weeks… our waiting list is now two weeks,” she says. “Customers have been reasonable, however we still get some people who blame us when their delivery isn’t on time. It is disappointing turning people away but due to water shortage we can only do so much. We appreciate our customers’ patience as this is very stressful for us and you all too!” 

Hannah says the long term solution would be for KDC to establish Mangawhai’s own reservoir as bores can be unreliable through long, dry summers. 

Meanwhile another local bore with fully tested, Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB) approved water, and possibly a means to provide immediate relief for those running on empty, remains untapped due to disputes over a resource consent. 

In a recent NZ Herald article on February 19 NRC group manager of regulatory services, Colin Dall, was quoted as saying ‘the landowner had withdrawn the use of the bore’. Landowners Paul Rae and Michelle Jago say this was not correct. 

“The resource consent has definitely not been cancelled… but despite our signed agreement, the transfer has not been processed," Michelle says. 

However as the current consent and therefore the existing WDHB agreement cannot be used, the couple have now applied for a resource consent themselves. 

"It is all quite ridiculous really. When a simple transfer would have the job done in no time at all and we could be supplying the most beautiful drinking water to our parched community,” Michelle says. “At least we have a solution now and we appreciate that both NRC and the WDHB are working closely with us to get our water out there again asap."
 
No water on long term council forecast
While Mangawhai and Kaiwaka burn brown and water resources evaporate under another hot, dry summer, no long-term solutions are yet forecast even though the H20 topic has been swirling around council chambers for ten years.

In a statement sent to the Mangawhai Focus, Kaipara District Council (KDC) say there are many ‘moving parts’ to maintaining a water resource for the community, with providing a consistent, self-replenishing supply to meet both current and future demands along with addressing climate change issues and drinking water standards, posing the biggest issues. Cost of course, is the ultimate question with the construction, maintenance and supplying a network for the water, paid for by the community through targeted rates. 

KDC says Mangawhai and Kaiwaka’s water issue has been a topic of continuous discussion for many years, with council commissioning a study in 2009 to examine existing aquifer exploration, dam options and stream flows. The report was included for discussion with the Long Term Plan (LTP) however the potential of a council supplied water network to Mangawhai did not gain support.

Water supply has also been discussed in both the 2012 and 2015 LTP, and featured recently in the 2017-2018 Mangawhai Programme (MP) delivered to KDC from the Community Advisory Panel (CAP). Recommendations from the MP then formed the Mangawhai Community Plan, which was open to the community for discussion through a variety of open days and meetings. In their report back to council after consultation with the community, CAP advised that they ‘support the principle that Mangawhai will continue to rely on rainwater collection and tank’.

However, given the latest dry season, the water issue is bound to flow again, and KDC say it may be a topic for the next LTP as council works toward ‘a sustainable solution for communities, the environment and the ever-growing nature of Mangawhai’.

- JULIA WADE
 


Green slowly disappears from the Mangawhai landscape under a hot blue sky and long, dry summer. Mangawhai Volunteer Fire Brigade warns that despite some relief from a recent dousing, a fire ban remains in place. – PHOTO/JULIA WADE

“It is disappointing turning people away but due to water shortage we can only do so much.”
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