Assets and infrastructure

Future-proofed growth and supply assurance, high-performing infrastructure

 

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Despite the challenges over the past 12 months, 2019/20 has been a record year for investment in water and wastewater infrastructure for Auckland.

We have invested about $552 million - $164 million towards building water supply infrastructure and another $388 million on infrastructure for wastewater – during the past year.

This investment is part of our long-term planning to ensure we build adequate infrastructure to cater for Auckland’s population growth and maintain or improve service levels while addressing the impacts of a changing climate.

Over the past five years, we have been consistently increasing our annual capital expenditure. The number of applications for new connections we receive per day has increased from 50 in 2017 to 60 in 2018 and hit 70 in 2019. Our capital expenditure reflects the level of growth in Auckland that we need to cater for as well as the infrastructure we need to replace.

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Some of the key projects we progressed this year include:

  • a tunnelling breakthrough for the final section of the Hūnua 4 Watermain. This 31-kilometre-long pipeline, running from Redoubt Road in Manukau to the city, when complete, will ensure security of supply and provide additional distribution capacity
  • a new water reservoir in Pukekohe East, which is close to commissioning and will enable us to produce more water at the Waikato Water Treatment Plant and ensure security of supply for the area. (Read the case study below for more details.)
  • a new pump station and watermain connecting Albany and Pinehill reservoirs to boost supply to this rapidly-growing area
  • application for resource consent for the Huia Water Treatment Plant replacement, which will provide improved treatment processes and ensure security of supply. The process is now at the hearings stage, with further environmental assessments on Kauri dieback in the area underway. A decision on the consent is expected in late 2020.
  • tunnelling in Upper Harbour for phase 1 of the Northern Interceptor, which is a new wastewater pipe being built in stages that will redirect wastewater flows currently going to the Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant, and has the capacity to service the additional flows and cater for growth
  • pre-commissioning works (mechanical, electrical and roading) for stage 1 of the Pukekohe Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades, expected to be complete by January 2021. These upgrades will significantly improve treatment processes, provide capacity for growth and improve the water quality of the local stream.

But it is not only long-term infrastructure that we focused on during the year. Our teams have also been fully involved in the drought response, specifically to plan and design new infrastructure to augment water supply in the short term.

Our Waikato and Onehunga water treatment plants are undergoing upgrades to increase production capacity. We are also working to return to supply two former water sources – Hays Creek Dam in Papakura and a bore in Pukekohe – which will provide additional capacity by December 2020. Planning, consenting and construction on these projects is progressing at pace, and these efforts will provide an additional supply of 40 million litres per day (MLD) for the 2020/21 summer. We are also building another plant adjacent to the existing Waikato plant that will provide an additional 50 (MLD) by mid 2021.

While our focus is on planning and building more infrastructure for a growing Auckland, we also want to build better. In September 2019, we announced a $2.4 billion construction partnership, the ‘Enterprise Model’ (EM), with Fulton Hogan and Fletcher Construction for the delivery of water and wastewater infrastructure for Auckland over the next 10 years.

The long-term and collaborative nature of this contract is a first for New Zealand and seeks to address many of the challenges faced by the we build infrastructure in an efficient, safe and sustainable manner. EM has been selected as the first ‘Beacon Project’ by the Construction Sector Accord, which is a joint commitment from Government and industry to work together to create a high-performing construction sector for a better New Zealand.

In its first year, the EM team has focused on establishing culture – a new way of working in partnership and laying the foundations to achieve our ambitious sustainability, cost and safety targets. (Read the case study on this page for more details.)

The onset of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown had an impact on our infrastructure projects. All construction works, except those considered essential for our operations, were closed down for a period of five weeks. These activities resumed once the Government downgraded to Alert Level 3, with physical distancing and site separation protocols in place, and have progressed on schedule to date.

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Case study

New reservoir in Pukekohe to improve resilience

Watercare’s largest reservoir in more than 25 years is close to completion.

The $34-million reservoir has been under construction for the last two years and will be in service in September 2020.

At a height of 12 metres, a diameter of 80 metres and capacity of 50 million litres, the Pukekohe East Reservoir at Runciman Road will be one of our largest reservoirs.

Once operational, it will help to ensure security of supply within the southern region and wider Auckland. The new reservoir can store almost 50 times the volume of the existing balance tank and will strengthen our network storage and resilience.

The increased storage capacity means water can be supplied for longer periods in the reverse direction or ‘back-fed’ to the surrounding communities in Pukekohe, Glenbrook Beach, Patumahoe, Clarks Beach, Waiau Beach as well as other parts of Auckland.

Currently treated water is pumped from the Waikato Water Treatment Plant through the Waikato No. 1 Watermain to the small concrete balancing tank. With the new reservoir, water will flow by gravity from the new Pukekohe East Reservoir to the Redoubt Road reservoirs in Manukau.

Throughout construction, our project team has engaged with the local community through fortnightly updates, open days and site tours. At our initial open day we used virtual reality (VR) digital technology to demonstrate what the project would look like when it was completed. Visitors got a feel for the size of the reservoir and were able to understand how we would reduce the impact on the environment.

The project site also has space allocated for the construction of another reservoir in the future, to cater for population growth and demand.

The Pukekohe East Reservoir will be one of our largest reservoirs at 50 million litres capacity.