Enhancing the security of local water supply

Following the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on Tairāwhiti, the critical importance of a resilient and robust water supply has never been clearer.

The Firstlight Network vegetation team and their tree contractors recently completed a three-week project that will help enhance the security of Gisborne’s water supply.

Pump stations in the Waingake catchment pump water from the Mangapoike dams to the Waingake Treatment Plant, which supplies water to 40,000 people in Gisborne city and the surrounding areas.

Firstlight Network surveyed the lines that deliver power to the pumps that keep them operating. They identified high risk trees and other vegetation that could grow too close to the lines and potentially disrupt the supply.

They undertook a programme to fell the trees and remove other small scale vegetation, and have now reduced the risk of power outages.

“Our tree team worked with contractors and Gisborne District Council on this important project,” said George Drysdale, Manager Firstlight Network Operations.

“Trees are the number one cause of power outages in Tairāwhiti, and right across New Zealand. Jamie Aitken, our Manager Field Operations, and the rest of his tree team play a vital role for the Network.

“Clearing all this vegetation has reduced the risk of power outages and, in turn, helped to improve the resilience of Gisborne’s water supply.

“We’re now working with the council to develop a comprehensive ongoing management plan for trees and other vegetation near the power lines,” said Mr Drysdale.

This project is just one of many initiatives happening in the Waingake water catchment as the Gisborne District Council, in partnership with Maraetaha Inc., undertakes a large-scale native restoration programme to restore the ngahere (forest).

“Together with Maraetaha Inc., we’re establishing permanent indigenous cover in these catchments, removing pests and wildling pines so that we can reduce sediment, lift water quality, restore mauri and uphold Te Mana o te Wai,” said Michele Frey, Council Liveable Communities Director.

“We really appreciate having reliable specialists collaborate with us to keep risks in check and support Council and Maraetaha Inc. with protecting the water supply.”

For information on safety and your responsibilities as a tree owner, see “Trees and lines” at firstlightnetwork.co.nz

For more details on the Waingake transformation programme see gdc.govt.nz

PHOTO: A collaborative approach to protecting the Waingake catchment. L to R: Jamie Aitken, Manager Field Operations, Firstlight Network; Scott Sharp, Gisborne District Council Waingake Transformation Project Manager; Hana Brightwell, Mark Harvey, Manea Swann and Keri Winiata, GDC Waingake Ngahere Ora Restoration team members.