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Water technology fascinates kids

Te Pohue

Getting a close look at the technology that will keep their drinking water safe are Te Pōhue School pupils, from left, Braxton Scott, 9, Jonathon Sturm, 11, and Brooke Lemalu, 10, with Hastings District Council water treatment operator Jason Collins, and

There is at least one budding drinking water engineer in the making at Te Pōhue School, after the school’s 28 students got a close-up look at the settlement’s new drinking water treatment plant and storage tank [March 16].

Hastings District Council drinking water operator Jason Collins gave the youngsters a run-down on where their water supply came from, how the new plant would operate, and the features that would keep the drinking water safe.

The new treatment plant has three protection barriers: filters, UV light treatment and chlorination.

Asked at the end of the talk who might consider working in the water industry, Braxton Scott, who had taken particular interest in the hi-tech insides of the treatment plant, put his hand up.

Principal Richard Gillespie said being able to go on a site visit just 20 steps from the school’s front gate was “powerful”.

“Our senior students have been studying technology in class and they got a great deal out of the on-site visit, especially the design phase – the importance of planning, the engineering and in terms of the chlorination. It’s led to discussions this week comparing the much greater amount of chlorine in our swimming pool, compared to the water supply.”

The younger children could relate to the water cycle presentation, as they had been studying the life cycles of animals and insects in class.

Mr Gillespie said having the construction contractors’ (Vertex Engineers Ltd) water engineer Andrew McKeown come and talk to the senior kids in class prior to the visit added real value to the experience. “Having people who are doing real work in something as different as water engineering is great. Andrew could relate the things they are doing in school now to elements of his work – helping the kids to see the importance of what they’re doing.”

The new plant is now going through its commissioning phase, which tests the pipes, valves, instruments and connections. That is expected to be completed by early April, after which the water will flow through to the taps of homes on the reticulated supply.

Te Pōhue residents on the system have been subject to a ‘boil water’ notice and that remains in place until Council’s water engineers advise that the plant is fully operational.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the upgrading of Hastings’ eight small community supplies was a major step towards the goal of supplying safe drinking water to all residents on Council-owned supplies.

“I want to thank the communities for their input and co-operation as we go through this process. In particular, at Te Pōhue, the gift of land from Rayonier Matariki Forests on which the new treatment and storage facility sits, was incredibly generous.

“Both Council and the community thank Harvest Planning Manager Andy Fleming for co-ordinating that critically important gift.”

Te Pōhue and Haumoana/Te Awanga are the first two small community supplies to be completed, with Waimārama, Clive and Whirinaki/Esk in the construction phase. Planning work is completed for Waipātiki with construction scheduled to start soon and community consultation on the Whakatū upgrade is underway. Discussions with the Waipatu community are due to be held.

1 April 2021

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