Downlands brings biggest upgrade in 85 years on stream

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Published: 02 Aug 2022

Boil water notices on the Downlands Water Rural Water Scheme will likely be a thing of the past with the commissioning of the scheme’s biggest upgrade in 85 years.

The Downlands Joint Standing Committee opened the new Te Ana Wai Water Treatment plant just outside of Albury in the Mackenzie District last week, bringing the supply into full compliance with the Drinking Water Standards and enabling the removal of the boil water notice for the majority of customers.

The new plant will serve the majority of the 2,300 connections and approximately 5,700 people on the Downlands water supply, which covers an area through the Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie Districts.

This new microfiltration treatment plant enables Council to safely take and treat water of a lower quality and meet both the bacteria and protozoa requirements under the Drinking Water Standards.

This new treatment plant is a part of the $26 million investment into the Downlands scheme since 2020. This funding has also included replacement of aged pipework, new infiltration galleries, a new pump station, and new treated and raw water reservoirs. These upgrades represent the biggest investment into the Downlands water supply since the scheme’s inception in 1937.

Timaru District Council Drainage and Water Manager Grant Hall says that the upgrades will mean higher quality and more reliable service for customers, and in the long term enable the expansion of the scheme.

“This is an exciting time for Downlands consumers. The new water treatment plant is a microfiltration plant, using the latest technology to allow us to adapt to the changing nature of our rivers.

“This means it will deliver improved water quality – safer water – to consumers, with a greater reliability of supply. As a result the precautionary boil water notice can be removed for the majority of consumers.

“While construction work began in earnest in 2020, the need for this investment into the Downlands scheme has been identified for some time.

“Large infrastructure projects of this scale take many years to deliver from initial concepts and designs to the delivery of treated water through the pipeline. This is why we plan for the needs of our District’s water supplies to make sure we can deliver them in a cost-effective manner.

“As well as a lift in water quality, the project will also enable some growth and development within the Downlands water supply scheme as well as providing added resilience.

“The raw water ponds will allow us to have up to 10 days of water for use at peak demand before we even have to take water during extreme storm events. The treatment plant can then in turn treat lower quality water.

“When you combine these systems, you see a huge increase in the resilience of the scheme.

“We’re also into the final few months of completing the pipeline replacement from the treatment plant to Cave. These upgrades will enable us to start to increase the allocation of water to properties, to possibly supply properties that are not currently connected and to provide for new connections to new dwellings.”

The majority of customers on the Downlands scheme no longer need to boil their water. This excludes residents of St Andrews as further work is required to bring their local treatment plant up to the standards and the Waitohi zone, which requires a complex repair.

For more information about the Downlands scheme and to register for updates visit

Media Contact:
Stephen Doran, Communications Manager / 027 202 7784 / 03 687 7456

Last updated: 02 Aug 2022