Waimea Community Dam ready for spring rainfall

Testing at the Waimea Community Dam has been progressing through the winter, and Waimea Water Ltd expects to commence filling the reservoir imminently, now that the sealing concrete plug and isolating valve have been installed.

The dam, a public private partnership between the Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators, is the first large dam to be constructed in New Zealand in 25 years. The reservoir will hold 13 million cubic metres of water to provide water security to the region.

Over July and August, the reservoir was managed to a very low water level to allow the isolating valve to be installed.

Waimea Water Ltd CEO Mike Scott said the dam is performing as expected and any teething issues are being addressed.

“It is early days, and we will assess and verify dam performance as we fill the reservoir in stages,” Scott said. “Speculation about there being issues with the dam are unfounded. We are comfortable with how the dam is performing. It is doing what we expected and contemplated, and we are executing our commissioning plans.”

The reservoir will be filled in stages by keeping the water level at hold points for extended periods to allow for testing and engineering measurements. When it rains there will be times when water will need to be released to return the reservoir to a set level, and then when ready, the reservoir level will be built up to the next hold point.

“What we most need now is average rainfalls in the dam’s catchment area. It has been very dry recently, but based on advice we are optimistic about the spring weather. With sufficient rainfall we expect to provide water to shareholders and the community this summer,” he said.

“By having the reservoir full and dam commissioned by December, we can provide our shareholders and community with confidence ahead of the forecasted windy and dry El Nino summer.”