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Tapping into our water supply history

23 November 2007

Tapping into our water supply history

The cities of the Wellington region enjoy a reliable water supply that produces top grade drinking water to residents. But how did we get there?

Engineering historian Peter Cooke has written a history of the region’s water supply for Greater Wellington that describes the hurdles faced by engineers and uncovers new information. Our water history – on tap, illustrated with photos and engineering plans from as far back as the 1860s, tells the story of our water supply from the days of early European settlement in the mid-19th century through to the 21st century.

“The engineers confronted considerable challenges to meet the demands of an ever-increasing population,” says Cr Rex Kirton, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Parks and Utility Services Committee.

“The region has a mountainous terrain and its fair share of natural hazards like earthquakes and flooding. But in spite of these difficulties, the foresight and hard work of those responsible for our water over the years has given us a top quality system that would be the envy of many communities. We now produce A1 grade water from the Te Marua and Wainuiomata plants, and those grades are pretty rare – so we can be very proud we’ve got two!”

Cr Kirton says that Wellington is lucky to have some wonderful heritage as a result of the water supply system. “An excellent example is the Karori dam – a great showpiece for the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

“We’ve even discovered a fact that may interest local history buffs. The lower Karori dam's completion date is widely published as 1874 but Peter Cooke’s research found it was completed four years later in January 1878.” The ‘dam’ completed in 1874 was actually a distribution basin, at the top of Aro Valley.

Our water history – on tap is available at your local library and on the Greater Wellington website: www.gw.govt.nz. You can also call 384 5708 for a copy.


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