New water treatment plants address potential water contamination
Aquifers provide drinking water to millions worldwide. They offer generally safe drinking water, the water having been naturally filtered through many metres of porous rock on its journey to the aquifer itself. In 2016, more than 5,500 people in the community of Havelock North (New Zealand) became sick from contaminated drinking water sourced from a nearby aquifer. Forty-five individuals were hospitalised, with four having died, possibly due to the contamination. The cause was deemed to be from water contaminated by sheep feces leaking into aquifer bores.
With the aquifer possibly compromised for the long term, the solution was to construct two water treatment plants to supply safe water to Havelock and the region. Working collaboratively with stakeholders and other consultants, we were engaged to produce concept, preliminary, and detailed designs for both sites, which included the water treatment plants and connecting distribution pipework. The Frimley Park and Eastbourne water treatment plants use UV light reactors followed by chlorination and fluoridisation to decontaminate water sourced from new bores drilled to access the aquifer.
The two facilities presented design challenges that were resolved in differing ways. The Frimley Park location was in a historic park renowned for its beautiful English-styled gardens. Designers were able to use shrubs and trees to effectively hide the facility within the park. The Eastbourne facility was much more visible and here that visibility became a benefit. The Eastbourne facility includes an education centre and educational resources to explain the nature of water in the environment and the functioning of the water treatment plant itself. The plant’s workings are also on display to visitors through floor to ceiling windows.
The Hastings Council also consulted with mana whenua (Indigenous peoples) to understand the cultural importance of water and with them agreeing upon the name Waiaroha, or “love water,” for the site of the plant.
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