Watercare chooses Manuka Road as site for new Huia Water Treatment Plant

Projects, 30/05/2017

Watercare plans to build a replacement for its ageing Huia Water Treatment Plant at the intersection of Woodlands Park and Manuka Roads, Titirangi. 

The preferred location of the new plant was announced by Watercare’s Board chair, Margaret Devlin, at the monthly Board meeting this morning. 

Says Devlin: “The Board has supported the recommendation of Watercare management to build the new plant on the Manuka Road site which sits adjacent to the existing operation. 

The Manuka Rd site that's been chosen as the preferred location for a new water treatment plant

“We have given due consideration to advice from independent consultants and Watercare’s specialist management who investigated the short-list of four sites. 

“The only amendment to Watercare management’s recommendation is to bolster the efforts to minimise the adverse effects on significant trees within the construction area, and to ensure that we undertake appropriate off-set mitigation. In addition the Board has asked management to establish a community liaison group to act as the key communication point. 

“Through the assessment process, Parker Road North and Manuka Road emerged as the preferred sites. And from a balance of the technical and environmental plus economic perspectives, there was no real difference between them. 

“However the key question was about minimising loss. The loss of trees and vegetation on the Manuka Road site can be mitigated by Watercare’s progressive planting of an 1800 hectare block in the Hunua Ranges. But the company is not easily able to mitigate for the loss of homes. Simply put, those affected residents in Parker Road could not be relocated locally. 

“In addition, Watercare owns the land on Manuka Road and the site has been designated for water supply use for many years. This designation has provided transparency of the potential to develop the site for water supply purposes. 

“This is an important decision for Auckland. The new Huia Water Treatment Plant is just one of a range of developments in our capital works programme to further strengthen the resilience of Auckland’s water supply.

“Expanding water supply capacity is critical in providing for Auckland’s peak water needs. Let’s not forget that it was the Huia plant that took the load when Ardmore production was affected during the serious weather event early this year. 

“By increasing current water treatment capacity at Huia by 15 percent, the new plant will be a much-needed addition to Auckland’s water infrastructure in the coming years.” 

Watercare’s next step is to lodge an application for the necessary resource consents with the Auckland Council. This is planned for later this year. Through this process, all interested parties will have the opportunity to be heard by independent commissioners. 

An aerial depicts the existing Huia Water Treatment Plant​


Report to the Board of Watercare Services Ltd on the recommended site selection for the Huia Water Treatment Plant replacement, 30 May 2017

Amended recommendation by the Board of Watercare Services Ltd on the recommended site selection for the Huia Water Treatment Plant replacement, 30 May 2017​

Background information

Watercare is replacing the Huia water treatment plant to expand the treatment and delivery of water from the dams in the Waitakere Ranges. The new plant, which will increase the plant’s current water treatment capacity by 15 percent, is scheduled for completion in 2023. 

The existing Huia plant, which treats almost 20 percent of Auckland’s water, was built in 1928 and is nearing the end of its operational life. Ageing watermains supporting the north-west water infrastructure also need to be replaced. 

In 2015, Watercare began talking with representative groups – such as the Local Board, Department of Conservation, and the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society – to explain the site identification principles and process. 

At the same time, Watercare started a search for alternate sites. Although the property directly opposite the existing plant – on Manuka Road – is owned by Watercare and is designated for water supply, under the Resource Management Act 1991 the company needed to ensure a better site was not available. 

From that search, 44 potential sites were identified and assessed against a set of criteria including geo-technical, environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts. 

Four site options were selected for final consideration. The options included building a new plant on the existing site, building a new plant next to the existing site on Manuka Rd, or building a plant on one of two sites in Parker Rd in Oratia. 

Either Oratia site would involve the compulsory acquisition of private properties, while the Manuka Rd option would involve the removal of mature trees. 

Residents and other stakeholders were able to share their views and concerns with Watercare at a series of meetings and open days in the early months of 2017. 

To inform the final decision, an independent panel of experts scrutinised site assessment reports and scored each against the criteria. A recommendation was then presented to the Watercare Board for their consideration. 

The Watercare Board chose its preferred option at its monthly meeting on 30 May 2017.

See the Huia water treatment plant replacement page​ for more background information.