Infrastructure projects rev up for level 3
Our water and wastewater infrastructure projects are back in business across Auckland today (22 September) with the city’s shift to COVID-19 alert level 3.
Under level 4, only bare minimum work involving the two Central Interceptor tunnel-boring machines Hiwa-i-te-Rangi and Domenica (micro-TBM) had continued. This was needed to prevent them becoming stuck underground and to prevent damage to nearby infrastructure.
Central Interceptor executive programme director Shayne Cunis says the team is very keen to be ramping back up.
“We had only just launched our main TBM Hiwa-i-te-Rangi before we went into Level 4, and there was significant work required to complete on-site assembly as she progressed forward. We have managed to keep her inching forward at a minimum rate, and, as of the end of alert level 4, we have installed 18 of the 9008 concrete rings of the Central Interceptor.
“As we move into alert level 3, we will increase our production to target rates over the coming weeks, while ensuring we are looking after our team’s health, safety and wellbeing as the majority of them return to work. We have enhanced Covid-19 management protocols which include mask wearing, maintaining strict work bubbles, carrying out daily temperature checks for all site staff, and disinfecting all overalls every day.
“Anyone who isn’t needed on site will continue to be working from home.”
Other infrastructure programmes will also kick off again around the city.
Chief infrastructure officer Steve Webster expects it to be a smooth transition to alert level 3.
“Many of our sites have worked under level 3 restrictions before so it will be a familiar return to working in bubbles, maintaining physical distance and adhering to all the strict protocols associated with a level 3 construction site to keep our people safe.
“Our contractors are very keen to get back to work on these critical projects for our customers.”
Among these projects is the second stage of the Papakura Water Treatment Plant. The temporary treatment plant that was completed in February as part of Watercare’s drought response is now offline while the plant equipment is transitioned to the new permanent plant. It will provide up to 12 million litres a day from Hays Creek Dam when it is completed early next year.
Work will also proceed on the new Mairangi Bay wastewater pump station, Clevedon’s new water and wastewater network, the replacement of the Huia 1 watermain, where works are underway in Mt Albert, and the Pukekohe Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade.
The move to alert level 3 also allows our maintenance crews and contractors to attend to all leaks and start clearing the backlog of work. In level 4, crews could only repair high-priority leaks or faults in the network as part of their essential activities. They also assessed all reported faults from inside their vehicles to enable repair work to be carried out efficiently in lower alert levels.
All of our water and wastewater treatment plants have been operating normally in level 4, but with reduced staff to maintain social distancing.
“I’d like to thank all of our essential workers for continuing to ensure Aucklanders have top quality drinking water and safe wastewater services, regardless of what alert level we are in,” Webster says.
“Our laboratory staff have also been exceptionally busy, taking wastewater samples for ESR’s Covid-19 analysis, as well as maintaining our normal water and wastewater quality testing.”
The rest of our workforce will remain working from home until alert levels change.