Summer leaves Mangawhai high and dry
BY JULIA WADE
In 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."
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.”