Blessing marks beginning of Pareora Pipeline Build

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Published: 09 Feb 2021

Major physical works to secure Timaru city’s main water supply while protecting internationally significant cultural heritage are now underway.

Council staff and contractors recently attended a blessing at Cannington given by Tewera King Upokorunanga o Te Runanga o Arowhenua, prior to groundworks beginning on the critical link.

The Pareora pipeline, which runs approximately 37km from the Upper Pareora Gorge in the Mackenzie District to Claremont on the edge of Timaru, passes through areas of cultural significance to mana whenua and the country’s highest concentration of extant Maori rock art.

Grant Hall, Drainage and Water Manager at Timaru District Council said that while this was a critical piece of infrastructure, it was important that it was delivered in a way that respected and protected the unique taonga in the area.

“The route the pipeline follows were significant traditional transport and food gathering areas for Māori, and we have to ensure we work in this environment with the utmost level of care and respect,” he said.

“The area is an important archaeological, cultural and spiritual site, it’s a landscape that’s dominated by rock art sites on the limestone bluffs around the river which is of national and international significance.

“There are also a number of suspected pre-1900 bridges and culverts along the route of the pipeline, so we’re also involved in the protection of those.

“The project is being run under an archeological authority, which enables us to do the work in proximity to these sites.

“Associated with that there’s a number of rules and procedures that we follow if the trenching for the pipeline uncovers archaeological remains so we can manage it in a legal and appropriate way.”

The Pareora pipeline is a critical component of the Timaru water supply, providing the bulk transfer of raw water from the Pareora River intake to the Claremont water treatment plant and storage reservoirs. This source provides approximately 60% of water consumed in the Timaru supply on an annual basis.

The pipeline build is being undertaken in three stages, the first covering the 15 km from the intake to the Pareora Gorge is currently underway. Procurement processes for section 3, and the technically challenging section 2 through the gorge is underway.

“The existing 90 year old pipeline is still an impressive bit of engineering, as it transports water from the river intake, through the gorge and all the way to Timaru without needing pumps,” said Grant.

“While the whole job is challenging, getting the water through the gorge was particularly difficult, so while the majority of the pipeline will be new, we’re also adopting innovative liner technology to reuse the current pipe.

“Our forbearers knew what they were doing and picked the best route through the gorge, so we’d be foolish to abandon that. The proven liner technology enables us to continue benefiting from this route, while ensuring the pipe is good for decades to come and lessens our impact on a culturally significant area.”

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021