Napier chlorine-free results revealed

An independent review outlining Napier’s drinking water infrastructure’s chlorine-free future versus the status quo will be presented to city councillors this week.

The Review will be presented to councillors at the Sustainable Napier Meeting on Thursday, 25 March. Councillors will be asked to endorse the Review and approve the proposed Communications and Engagement Plan for the Review.

In December 2019, Council resolved to proceed with a review to consider the options for the future of Napier’s water supply, comparing the option of an enhanced system with chlorine disinfection against a safe chlorine free alternative. The Review began in June 2020.

Involving consultants across four countries as well as Napier City Council staff, the Chlorine-Free Drinking Water Review – Options for the Provision of Safe Drinking Water to Napier City, produced by Pattle Delamore Partners Ltd, and peer reviewed by GHD, identifies the complexities around providing this type of network, the potential costs, and how long it could it take.

The Review team refined a long list of options to consider the two most practical scenarios, and plotted these over a 20-year timeframe to compare the options’ costs against each other. The report does not identify a preferred option but shows how the investment of the current Long Term Plan and an enhanced network are stepping stones towards a chlorine free future.

The reviewers were not asked to provide a detailed cost analysis and have not undertaken design, however cost estimates indicate it will cost around $300 million over 20 years to achieve chlorine-free.

The Review recommends a staged approach, to make sure the city’s drinking water supply continues to be safe throughout these changes, over a number of years, as there is no quick fix to enable Napier to return to chlorine-free in the short term. For Napier to develop a chlorine-free supply that would be likely to meet the new regulator’s standards, the network and its operation would require considerable enhancements, moving towards the advanced chlorine-free networks seen overseas.

If the decision is made to go to chlorine-free, it could take until 2041 and cost an estimated $284 million.

These options will be part of the Long Term Plan 2021-31 (LTP) community consultation process. This includes a public meeting, Facebook Live Chats and Book a Chat with councilors, initiatives to inform the community of the Review’s findings and recommendations.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise is looking forward to sharing the findings with the community, and consultation through the Long Term process.

“This will help us as a Council decide what our next steps will be,” said Mayor Wise.

“Keeping the upcoming central government Three Water reforms in mind, the future of our drinking water supply is one of the most important decisions this Council will make.”

The main issues related to the Review include: affordability, the ability of Council and industry to deliver the required work in a timely manner, and the new Drinking Water Standards NZ. These standards, while not approved yet, may force Council to deliver temporary measures to meet compliance which may defer the network’s long term development.