Supply and treatment

Our supply schemes

We provide a reticulated water supply to 23,617 residential properties and approximately 2,078 non-residential properties in the district. 

Twelve water treatment plants in the district produce an average volume of 32,307 cubic metres of potable water every day.  

We own and manage 640km of pipes that requires 33 pump stations to move the water through the network and to your property.  

Resource consents are required for the abstraction of natural water that is used for public supplies.  These stipulate the amount of water than can be taken on a daily or weekly basis and a maximum rate of extraction (litres per second).   We currently have approximately 34 water take consents issued by the Otago Regional Council.   

As the primary water supplier to the district, we are required to provide a supply of water to homes and businesses that is safe for human consumption. 

Water treatment

All Council-owned  water supplies are treated using Chlorination.    This follows an extensive community consultation in 2017 and the Havelock North water contamination crisis is 2016.  

  • Supplying safe and clean drinking water is one of our core responsibilities. There is both the expectation and legal requirement that the water is safe to drink for our residents and visitors to the region. 

    We are obligated to learn from the Havelock North experience. An event of that magnitude in the Queenstown Lakes District would be very damaging on a local level - in terms of the effects to residents, but also seriously damaging to the region’s tourism sector. 

    Drinking from an untreated water supply is much like driving without a seatbelt. While you may be safe for the majority of the time, when something adverse happens you are completely unprotected. Chlorine acts in the same way as a seatbelt – it protects those drinking from the supply from unexpected contamination events. Additional safety features are needed to protect against all possible infections, for example chlorine does not kill cryptosporidium.

  • As little as possible to keep your water safe. Typically we will use a dose of 0.8mg of chlorine for every litre of water. This will give a residual dose of 0.5mg per litre in what comes through your taps.

  • It can, and it already has.

    In 1984 before Queenstown’s water was chlorinated, about 3500 people in Queenstown became ill with gastroenteritis after a blocked sewer overflowed into Lake Wakatipu near the water supply intake.

    In 2012 there was an outbreak of norovirus at Cardrona where 53 people reported being ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea from contaminated water.

    We have regularly had to issue “Boil Water” notices for local communities because testing has shown E.coli in the water.

  • Yes. Globally, chlorine has been used safely in the treatment of water for around 120 years. It keeps millions of people safe all over the world from waterborne illness (including most of New Zealand).

  • You can fill a jug of water and leave it on the bench or in your fridge overnight. The chlorine will dissipate naturally over a few hours and the taste will be gone. Under-bench filters can also help remove the taste of chlorine.

  • You can buy a carbon filter that attaches to your water supply where it enters your property. It will remove all the chlorine from the water to your home. Examples include:


Lake Algae

For a number of years the Lake Wanaka water supply has been affected by the presence of algae, often known as 'lake snow'. The algae is not harmful from a health perspective, but can affect water filters, irrigation fittings, new appliances and other equipment. 

In mid-2016 we began receiving reports of algae build-ups in a number of water filters around Queenstown that take water from Lake Wakatipu. It has been identified as the same algae that has affected the water system in Wanaka for the past eight years or so.

This is not a health concern, but if you notice a significant drop in water pressure at home it might pay to check and clean your water filter, and let us know so we're aware of the scale of the issue.

We’re currently working with the Otago Regional Council and their partners to learn more about the naturally occurring algae, what causes it, and what treatment options are available.

The Council has released a brochure "Managing Algae in Your Water Supply" which details the possible effects of the algae  and how to deal with it.

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