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Proposed Cardrona Valley Water Supply Scheme

We're proposing to deliver  a new drinking water supply scheme for the Cardrona area.    Here you'll find details about the proposal and important information to help  you understand the importance of this project for the health of the Cardrona community.   

Overview What's proposed The risk of doing nothing Frequently asked questions Mythbusters


Queenstown Lakes District Council is proposing to deliver a new drinking water supply scheme for the Cardrona area.  The goal is to provide safe and secure drinking water with sustainable demand management built in to cater for future growth and development.

Currently the water supply in Cardrona is serviced by a number of private schemes.   Water supply in this area has a history of contamination resulting in illness. In 2012, there was an outbreak of Norovirus from two schemes in Cardrona which saw 53 linked/known cases with many more possible.   This was a registered event and the Southern District Health Board formally advised QLDC and the Otago Regional Council that an improved long term solution was needed. 

Compliance with expected upcoming regulatory changes will come at a significant cost to permit holders and local authorities around New Zealand.   You can read more about this reform here:

Further to this the Otago Regional Council has implemented a shrinking cap on new water permits.     QLDC does not currently hold a water permit for this area so it is considering opportunities for collaboration to deliver a solution that is affordable for a small community already faced with costs of a new wastewater treatment scheme and has invited private permit holders to consider participating. 

What's proposed

The investors of Mount Cardrona Station (MCS) will be proceeding with a drinking water scheme for the Mount Cardrona Station land which will result in another private drinking water scheme in the area.     MCS has offered the opportunity to partner with QLDC to build this scheme to a specification that will ensure compliant drinking water servicing for the whole Cardrona village.  The scheme is using pre-existing ORC-consented water permits and land-use rights.

This opportunity is not limited to the investors of Mount Cardrona Station. All private schemes are invited to vest their schemes in Council or make proposals to integrate with the new scheme.  An integrated water scheme is the safest and best possible outcome for the growing Cardrona community.   It is expected that the new drinking water scheme will be operational by March 2022.

The public health risk of doing nothing

QLDC has a responsibility to ensure residents and visitors to Cardrona have access to safe and secure clean drinking water. 

Safe drinking water is a necessity for good health and recognised as a human right by the United Nations.    

Drinking water can contain harmful germs such as CryptosporidiumGiardiaCampylobacterSalmonella and E. coli that can cause serious illness.  

As highlighted above, a serious illness event has already occurred in Cardrona affecting a high portion of the residents in the area.  In 2016, the Havelock North incident saw multiple facilities and thousands suffering illness attributed to water supply.

Doing nothing is not an option when public health is at such a high risk.

How do I know if my drinking water is safe?

There is information available to help you understand whether the water you drink every day complies with safety standards, including the Health Act 1956 and Drinking Water Standards New Zealand. 

 This can be found on the Ministry of Health website below.    Information specific to Cardrona can be found on page  84 of the 2018-19 report and page 59 of the 2017-18 report.

Ministry of Health website

Frequently asked questions

  • The short answer is to protect public health.   A new water supply scheme is needed to ensure the whole community has consistent access to safe drinking water that complies with the proposed health & quality standards that, subject to legislative process, are expected in 2021.

  • You'll find an indicative Scheme Boundary and Plan below. 

    Note this is in the early stage of design and Council is open to changes to accommodate need if there is demonstrated interest for other areas to be included. 


  • Yes.  The scheme would allow for expansion at a later date.  Residents with properties outside of the scheme, but within a serviceable range can apply for a connection.  These applications will be considered in accordance with the Council’s Water Supply Boundary Adjustment Policy. 

    There will be costs associated with connecting which are also determined by this policy


  • The goal is to provide an affordable water supply scheme that is comparable to other small schemes like and Glenorchy. 

    For residential users the estimated cost  is likely to be be between $7,500 and $8,500 + GST (development contribution) per dwelling unit equivalent for allocation of capacity, with an estimated annual operating charge between $600 - $750 + GST per annum charged by volume (i.e. those that use more water will would pay more, those that use less would pay less). 

    For commercial properties, the cost is calculated based on the Gross Floor Area in the  Development Contributions and Financial Contributions Policy.

    There are a number of aspects to the cost implications: 

    • Development Contribution – An upfront fee to secure capacity in the QLDC network. ( Two payment options will be available for existing dwellings and vacant lots. Households can choose the option that best works for them:

      • 1. Lump sum upfront. No interest charges will apply to this option.

      • 2. Payment Plan with payments spread out over 30 years (including interest). Further detail on costs will be available when design is completed.

    • Connection Fee – what you pay a plumber or QLDC contractor to hook up the lateral pipes to the mains. These costs will vary depending on the property type and location and timing of connection:

      • Private side (i.e. from the property to the property boundary/toby valve): all required earthworks and plumbing work is covered by the property owner.

      • Public side (i.e. the lateral pipes from the Council mains to the property boundary/toby valve): Connections that are made upfront will be covered by QLDC as part of the project.  Connections made at the later date will be covered by the property owner. 

    • Ongoing operational costs – This will be calculated on a demand basis with a fixed cost component. Those who use less water will pay less in operational costs.

    • Application and admin fees – Applies to all connections – you can see those forms and related fees here:

    • All costs in accordance with applicable QLDC bylaws and policies

  • The charges cover a contribution to the capital cost of constructing the scheme, and its ongoing operation, maintenance and depreciation. 

  • If there is a building in multiple ownership with differing uses, each owner will have their own ‘individual point of supply’ agreement with QLDC.   This will require separate connection fees and development contributions as there are separate connections to the network.   

  • Residents with properties outside of the scheme, but within a serviceable range can apply for a connection.  These applications will be considered in accordance with the Council’s Water Supply Boundary Adjustment Policy. 

    The costs will differ depending on the property, these will be determined by the above policy.


  • The goal is to reuse and repurpose as much of the existing infrastructure as possible to reduce the capital cost requirements of providing a safe and secure public drinking water scheme.   However, QLDC does not own any existing water pipes in the Cardrona area so the ability to use any existing pipes relies on the owners' willingness to vest their infrastructure in Council at an agreed value.

    While re-use of existing infrastructure will help to reduce the connection costs, it won’t eliminate them completely.

  • QLDC invites private scheme owners to negotiate an agreed value to vest their schemes in Council or make proposals to integrate with the new scheme. 

  • Reports have been presented to the full Council and the project was included in the 2021-31 Ten Year Plan.   

  • On 10 December, Councillors will be asked to consider proceeding with negotiation and further planning in relation to the proposed scheme.  

    Funding for the project will then be included in the draft 2021-31 Ten Year Plan which, subject to approval by Councillors, will be released for formal consultation in March 2021. 


  • QLDC will stage capital investment by only building what is needed, when it’s needed to avoid over capitalising on day one.  For example, piping water to the village will not be affected if growth is slow at Mount Cardrona Station.  Likewise, Mount Cardrona Station would only build and vest piping to QLDC when there are houses connected that are paying those costs.  

    Operational costs (which include maintenance and depreciation) will be funded by those who pay rates to use the services.

  • The certainty that when you turn on the tap, the water you and your family or your customers is drinking is safe and compliant with government drinking water standards and the requirements of the Health Act 1956. 

    You can read more about the status of the water you drink every day in the Ministry of Health Annual Report.   Cardrona specific information can be read on page 84. 

    Ministry of Health website

  • The goal is to achieve a fully integrated public water scheme for Cardona.  This involves working closely with all private scheme holders.   As mentioned earlier, QLDC does not currently hold a water permit in the Cardrona area so working with another permit holder is a crucial step to achieving this goal. 

    The investors of Mount Cardrona Station are one possibility for achieving this goal, offering an opportunity to collaborate with Council to achieve safe and secure drinking water for all Cardrona residents.     We are happy to hear from any other permit holders who are interested in working with QLDC to help achieve this goal.  

    It’s important to note that Mount Cardrona Station will proceed with its drinking water scheme whether QLDC chooses to participate with their scheme or not.   If QLDC chooses to collaborate on this project its contribution is only for the benefit of the whole Cardrona community.

  • All public water schemes require pumping water uphill to be stored in reservoirs to ensure a minimum level for firefighting capacity is always maintained in the event of an outage, power failure or emergency event.  This is best practice and has been consistently required from every new development through the QLDC Subdivision and Land Development Code of Practice.

    So no matter what elevation you live at, it is a QLDC requirement to have water pumped up to a storage location.    Note that existing schemes in Cardrona also currently pump water uphill so this wouldn’t be a change in service. 

    Locating the treatment facility near the storage facilities also reduces the potential for contamination in the treated water lines and locating assets together helps minimise maintenance and operations costs of facilities.

  • We would recommend that you consider connecting to the public scheme as early as possible as the initial connection fees related to the public side of the laterals can be funded by the project and  spread over a larger number of subscribers.  Connecting at a later date will mean the property owner would need to carry the full cost to connect. 

  • A functional water scheme does not guarantee that the water you are drinking is safe, and meets the Drinking Water Standards New Zealand, Health Act 1956, or incoming Water Services Bill and regulations under Taumata Arowai – Aotearoa’s Dedicated Regulator of three waters

    QLDC strongly recommends early connection to maximise affordability.  However, if you currently have a water supply scheme (and have no conditions in a land use consent or a consent notice that requires connection to a QLDC water supply), you may continue to use your existing supplier for water services.  

    Note that should you choose not to connect to the QLDC water supply scheme, you may be charged a targeted rate based on the availability of service to your property (typically a half rate) by QLDC.


  • Yes.  For irrigation purposes as per the requirements of the Mount Cardrona Station Special Zone rules in the district plan. 

    District Plan rules

    The Mount Cardrona Station Design Guidelines also includes a section around water efficiency, requiring a number of design features to ensure buildings within the zone can reduce long term water use in an area where there can be water supply constraints.

    Mount Cardrona Station Design Guidelines 2017

  • The current seasonal flow rates can be requested from the Otago Regional Council.  However  it’s important to note that the proposed scheme relies on already permitted water takes.  This proposal is not seeking to extract additional water.  

    QLDC must comply with the conditions of any water permit it acquires ownership of.  If the Council is successful in acquiring water permits from multiple consent holders, the ecological impact to environments can actually be improved through combined demand and peak flow design. 

    The Otago Regional Council manage water catchments and permits.  You can see all of the existing permits on their website:

  • As highlighted above, there is no proposal to increase water take.  The intention is to better manage the allocations through a single operator with economies of scale.

    Going forward with climate change this will become increasingly important.  Reducing the number of independent schemes and private bores into a concentrated and well managed public scheme will best ensure availability and management of water for generations.

  • Only bores that can comply with the Health Act 1956 and Drinking Water Standards (current and future) will be retained and managed by QLDC.  

    If they are demonstrated to be compliant and of value in terms of capacity or supply resilience, the cost to maintain these would be factored into the rates.

  • As highlighted earlier, all public water schemes require pumping water uphill to be stored in reservoirs to ensure a minimum level for firefighting capacity is always maintained in the event of an outage or power failure.

    Power outage is highly probable in a catastrophic emergency event which is why all QLDC managed critical services have onsite generators and diesel storage to provide emergency standby power.   However, a catastrophic event such as an Alpine Fault failure is likely to bring temporary pipe breakages and contaminated water.  That’s why it is so important that residents have plenty of clean water in their emergency kits, enough for cooking, drinking and cleaning every person in your household for at least a week. 

  • Yes.  This is an important requirement of any public water scheme.

  • This has been a requirement either because there was not sufficient storage capacity in the connected or available reticulated water supply scheme, or there was not an available reticulated water scheme to connect to.

    Mount Cardrona Station intends to provide the necessary firefighting storage for the MCS development in the reticulated system that is proposed for the MCS development.   If QLDC moves ahead with a joint scheme firefighting capacity in the village could also be centralised more efficiently and improved.

    Currently there are parts of the village that do not have adequate firefighting capacity and the proposed scheme can improve the level of service.

  • While the details are still to be worked out in the design – Cardrona can expect an early implementation of the results from the trials QLDC are conducting on water metering in other parts of the district.    You can read about the trial here.

    The proposal for Cardrona  considers the sensitive catchment and scarcity of water in a high country alpine environment and seeks to ensure that demand management implemented on day one of operations.

    Charging in accordance with QLDC Water Supply Bylaw 2015,

  • All private infrastructure must be designed in accordance with the QLDC Subdivision and Land Development Code of Practice.  The infrastructure will be designed to use as much passive protection as possible (underground or insulated services) to reduce operating costs.  But where required exposed pipes at risk of freezing will be heat-traced with active electric units.

  • As already highlighted, there is no proposal to take additional water.   The proposed public water scheme will be within existing water permits.  Council will operate within the conditions of any existing permit or consent it is able to acquire.

  • The design basis has allows for 1,000 to 1,180 L/day/household to service the ultimate demand.

    Water meters will be installed and those who use more will pay more, and those who use less will pay less.

  • As a result of the tragic Havelock North incident, Central Government completed a formal inquiry and has signalled imminent changes to drinking water standards and regulation.  This includes the establishment of Taumata Arowai (Aotearoa's dedicated regulator of the three waters), the first reading of a new Water Services Bill (July 2020) and administrative reform is pending. 

    While the full details are not yet known, QLDC will be a water services operator, responsible to Taumata Arowai.   You can read more about Taumata Arowai here. 

    QLDC will keep all residents updated on changes to requirements.

  • QLDC requested community feedback on the proposal in October.  Since then there has been a number of questions and concerns raised so Council felt it was important to provide further information and opportunity for the community to provide feedback. 

    At this point the feedback will be provided to elected members to consider as part of their decision making process on whether to proceed to the next stage of the process.  

    Have your say by emailing 

    Community feedback is open until 4 December. 




There has been confusion on some aspects of this proposal that need to be clarified.   Below we address some of the ‘myths’ we’ve heard so far.

  • The Council is not underwriting any costs and there is no loan proposed.  However it is possible there has been a misunderstanding around discussions on the small scheme subsidy.    The Cardrona Village can receive the 20% small scheme subsidy whereas Mount Cardrona Station is not eligible for this.   

    The term ‘interest’ has only been used in connection with development contributions and the payment plan options which is addressed above in the section relating to costs.  Any interest would be applied consistently in accordance with QLDC’s usual processes and policies.

    If the Council chooses to collaborate on this project, it will contribute to the costs along with the investors of Mount Cardrona Station.   Any benefit to the developer would be in proportion to its contribution to the project. 


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