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Watercare Receives Long-awaited Consent For Huia Water Treatment Plant Replacement

The Environment Court has granted resource consent that allows Watercare’s Huia Water Treatment Plant replacement project to proceed.

The consent, granted just before Christmas, relates to the earthworks and vegetation removal that’s needed for Watercare to build a new treatment plant to replace the 95-year-old original plant.

Watercare head of strategy and planning Priyan Perera says the decision was welcome news after a robust consenting process in which Watercare worked closely with appellants through court-assisted mediation.

“We’re really happy to have come to an agreement that addresses the concerns of the appellants and enables us to move forward with this critical project for Tāmaki Makaurau.

“Our existing Huia Water Treatment Plant was built in 1928 and is nearing the end of its operational life.” 
“The project caters for our region’s growth and, with two new treated water storage reservoirs, improves the resilience of the water supply. It will supply water to approximately 300,000 Aucklanders, about 20 per cent of Auckland’s water.

“We’d like to thank Te Kawerau ā Maki, the Titirangi Protection Society, the Tree Council, Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, Forrest and Bird and other stakeholders for working with us in good faith and reaching an agreed way forward.”

As noted in the consent conditions, Watercare will establish the Biodiversity Trust with a lumpsum contribution of $8.25m to fund its work over a 25-year period.

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The trust will include members from Watercare, Auckland Council, the Waitākere Ranges Local Board, the community liaison group, two community representatives connected with local community-led conservation projects and mana whenua Te Kawerau ā Maki.

“The trust will work with the community to enhance the biodiversity of 380 hectares of public and private land in and around Waima. It will work to enhance native forest regeneration, increase community engagement in the importance of sustainable management of the area, and carry out pest management initiatives,” Perera says.

“We’ll also develop a comprehensive risk management plan to prevent the spread of the phytophthora soilborne pathogen that can cause root rot diseases in Kauri trees. This includes strict control and treatment of stormwater on site, movements on and off site, and the locations where earthworks and vegetation can be transported to.

“As part of this project, we will be restoring the Nihotupu filter station which sits at the entrance to the Exhibition Drive walkway.”

The conditions of our consent are focused on mitigating adverse effects on the community and the environment covering things like traffic management, noise, hours of operation, and in particular, stringent conditions aimed to prevent any transfer of kauri dieback.

Concept design for the water treatment plant is underway now. At this stage, Watercare hopes to begin construction in 2027.

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