Two Horowhenua towns may run out of clean drinking water, as water treatment plants struggle to process the aftermath of a deluge of rain.
Mayor Bernie Wanden urged Levin, Shannon and Tokomaru residents to conserve water on Monday as supplies dropped to critical levels.
A stay on water usage has been placed across Horowhenua after heavy rainfall put intense pressure on the district’s water treatment plants.
Wanden, giving a statement via a live-streamed video, said people needed to stop using water as soon as possible.
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Water use in Levin and Shannon was exceeding what the treatment plants could provide, he said.
“There is a real risk water supplies will run out and the community will need to rely on bottled water or water tankers.”
Tanks of fresh water would be available at the Shannon public toilets on Ballance St, and in Levin at the Performing Arts Centre on Queen St East, and the car park on the corner of Salisbury and Bath streets.
People should avoid doing the dishes, laundry and using baths and showers, and only flush for solid bodily waste, Wanden said.
He urged people to contact neighbours and other residents to spread the water conservation message.
RJ’s Licorice’s operations manager Joe Murphy said he had been asked to shut down the factory as the township only had one hour of treated water left.
No time limit has been placed on the stay.
“For us it’s huge, we’re coming up to the end of our financial year, and we’re doing a big project, and we’re going to lose production time.”
The treatment plant was pumping through 2000 litres of water per second on Sunday, and a statement from the council then suggested there were no concerns with the plant’s capabilities.
Horizons Regional Council considered opening the Moutua floodgates near Shannon on Monday morning after significant rainfall throughout the wider Manawatū in the past 48 hours.
However, following inspections at 8am the acting river management group manager Craig Grant said they would not open the gates, but would keep a crew in place to assess later in the afternoon.
“River levels are beginning to fall across the region and we are not anticipating any issues with channel capacity.”
There was a significant increase of water in the upper Manawatū, primarily Mangahao and Mangatainoka catchments, and surface flooding across the lower parts of the region made its way into the Manawatū River.
Grant said the river had peaked at 8.57 metres at 1pm and modelling based on the most recent forecast showed the Moutoa floodgates trigger point of 8.6 metres wouldn’t be reached.
“Our aim is to maintain as much flow downstream as possible to keep channel capacity and ensure sediment disposition is minimised.”
The Moutoa floodgates open to ease river flow amid heavy rain in June, 2018. (File video, first published June 13, 2018)
Roads remain closed and bridges are flooded throughout the region, forcing detours for motorists and an increase in calls to emergency services.
Firefighters have been called to a dozen incidents, mainly in Shannon.
The town’s chief fire officer Wayne Hurunui said firefighters were on standby to help the community after attending multiple calls for house floodings on Sunday.
Firefighters had used pumps and sandbags to protect homes, but the creek running along the rear of many homes continued to rise and flow onto properties.
“Once it started, it didn’t stop, it just kept coming. It’s the mud and silt that’s clogging up everything.”
Horowhenua District Council said Okarita Ave, Gladstone Rd and Mangahao Rd had been closed due to the weekend’s flooding.
The floodway on State Highway 56 has been closed between Alve and Tane roads, following reports of the Ōpiki bridge being flooded by more than one metre deep, a police spokesman said.
Detours around the floodway were available, a Horowhenua District Council spokeswoman said.
“Contractors and council officers are responding to calls for sandbags, which are being provided to residences at risk.”
Anyone who needed urgent help was asked to call the council on 06 366 0999.