Amberley and Leithfield Water Supply Update

17 October 2016

We have been extensively and routinely flushing the water pipes around the Amberley and Leithfield areas. So far our results are generally looking great, however we have identified that in Amberley south the results aren’t as good as we would like. We are also hearing that some properties outside of this area may be experiencing problems. If you experience discoloured water coming out of your tap for more than 10 seconds, then please let us know. If the timeframe is shorter than that but occurs regularly we would really like to know about that too. 

9 September 2016

Power point presentation on Amberley Ward water supply 

Hard water Advisory 

30 August 2016 

The flushing program in Amberley, Leithfield, Amberley Beach and Leithfield Beach is continuing  The next flushing will be done in 6 weeks time. 

8 July 2016

Over the last couple of days we have been aware that there has been discoloured water coming through the pipes (it has occurred in our offices and library too). This was initially thought to be as a result of the flushing process, and that the flushing frequency had been shifted out to six weeks, from the previous four-week cycle.

After further investigation, it now appears that the cause was more to do with the temporary shutdown of the Racecourse Road bore for testing (now running again) which in turn activated the Kowai bore to start up to keep the Seadown Reservoirs topped up. As the Kowai has not run since June 3 it would seem that it has picked up a load of sediment in between times which was unfortunately, introduced into the Amberley reticulation.

This problem has never occurred previously and we will be doing everything possible to ensure that it does not repeat. As part of this we will install a flushing point at the Kowai source which will operate each time the bore is called on for water. This will ensure that if there is any sediment it is sent to waste water for a period of time preventing it from re-entering the reticulated supply.

Coincidently and fortunately, the flushing programme occurred at the same time and has cleared the sediment from the pipes. If you are still experiencing any discolouration please run a cold tap (preferably an outside tap) for a few minutes until this clears.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

27 May 2016

The flushing program in Amberley, Leithfield, Amberley Beach and Leithfield Beach has continued at 4 weekly intervals with good results.  The next flushing will be done in 6 weeks time to see if we could extend the time between flushes.

6 April 2016

23 March 2016

The dead-ends and main lines in Amberley, Amberley Beach, Leithfield and Leithfield Beach have now been routinely flushed several times, with good results. The team have now started flushing sub-mains and are reporting really positive results here too. The next stage will be to open and close all valves to ensure they are operating correctly. This action could release some more sediment and whilst we have practices in place to manage the sediment flow, there is a chance it could reach some properties.

Please remember that the flushing and valve opening/closing process can cause the water in your pipes to be discoloured. If this happens, you are advised to run an outside tap for several minutes until this clears, followed by an inside cold tap to ensure that this hasn’t come into your house pipes too. If it has, then run the cold tap for a few minutes until this clears.

After the incident last week where discoloured water was found in some taps and reported through Facebook, we have investigated this and consider it to be a piece of aged sediment in the south western part of Amberley. The initial report suggesting it was caused by work at the reservoir was unfounded. If this was the cause then a greater area would have been affected. As an investigatory measure, the pipe lines in this area have been reviewed for any damage or movement caused by third parties and this too looks not to be a cause.

Leithfield Village Water Supply

22 February 2016

Contractors have finished installing flush points throughout the village and have started flushing the lines in and around Leithfield Village.  Flushing will continue once a week for the next few weeks.  When all the lines are running clean the flushing intervals will be extended.

11 February 2016 - 24 February 2016

The water supply to Leithfield will be turned off intermittently over the next 10 working days while contractors continue installing flush points throughout the village.  The flush points will be installed and water turned on and off only during normal work hours, i.e. 8am to 4.30pm.

So for certain times during the day, you will not hear water coming into your tanks.  It would be timely to remind all customers of our recommendation to have a tank with at least three days supply.

Once all the flush points have been installed our flushing programme will continue.  This programme is aimed at improving the water quality throughout the village.

We apologise for the inconvenience

16 February 2016

Action Plan

The initial plan is underway and producing good results. We now need feedback from residents as to their recent experiences. This feedback will help HDC understand whether this plan is working and what else can be done to improve the customer experience

Amberley Township

Action Item Remarks Due Date Complete Date

Continue to investigate all issues raised by residents, ascertain events and try to find new learnings




Sample school and preschool water


This has been carried out in Amberley with good results. The water ran clear and no detectable taste or odour. The schools were supportive of the flushing and sampling routine being used.

 5 Feb 16

 5 Feb 16

Increase flushing frequency


This has worked really well within the council infrastructure. Water quality at all flushing points has markedly improved. The frequency of the flushing programme will continue to be reviewed but the success of this programme will only be recognised once we see the impact on the residents, provided through their feedback to HDC



Introduce fortnightly random sample points


Coupled to the pre-existing fixed testing points another 2 random points will be tested fortnightly for the next 2 months (from late Feb). The results will be evaluated and if the results match those of the fixed points the random testing points will reduce to 3 monthly.

 30 Apr 16


Direct water from the Racecourse Road to Amberley water supply

This will be tested on 15 February from various locations including private connections. Results can take 5 days.

 22 Feb 16


Remove sections of pipe for analysis

This will be done as a matter of course as and when pipe sections are replaced or other assets (valves) added to the pipelines



Leithfield Village

 Action Item Remarks  Due Date  Complete Date 

Continue to investigate
all issues raised by residents, ascertain events and try to find new learnings

Sample school and preschool water  Samples taken in Leithfield were clear without detectable odour or taste. The school has been made aware of the proposed flushing to be carried out in Leithfield.  15 Feb 16  11 Feb 16
Install flushing points  This is underway  26 Feb 16  
 Check and clean property water supply points (restrictors)    2 Mar 16  
 Commence a flushing programme  This will initially be carried out weekly and reviewed.  29 Feb 16  
 Introduce fortnightly random sample points  Coupled to the pre-existing fixed testing points another 2 random points will be tested fortnightly for the next 2 months (from late Feb). The results will be evaluated and if the results match those of the fixed points the random testing points will reduce to 3 monthly.  30 Apr 16  
Remove sections of pipe for analysis  This will be done as a matter of course as and when pipe sections are replaced or other assets (valves) added to the pipelines    ongoing

 Other Options

Listed in the table below are other more substantial options open to HDC but are likely to come at high cost ($)

Action Item Remarks
Investigate increasing the amount of water from Race Course Road bore into Amberley mixing plant Already underway
Implement a water softening plant  
Provide a greater quantity of mixed water  
Pigging (scouring) the pipes  
Investigate other deep well sources  

5 February 2016

We have received a copy of questions /answers that were sent to the CDHB by a local journalist following the meeting last week.

1) I understand from last night's meeting that the Hurunui District Council staff monitor the water quality in the district. Is that correct? 

Hurunui District Council contract out their compliance monitoring to another organisation.

2) From what I have read and heard, the water quality must meet ``Drinking Water Standards''. 

Under the Health Act, network drinking-water suppliers serving populations of 25 or greater must take all practicable steps to comply with the Drinking Water Standards.

A) Who sets these standards?

The Ministry of Health.  An Expert Committee on Drinking Water Quality was set up to advise the Ministry of Health and assist with the development of the Drinking Water Standards. 

   B) How does the authority in charge of these standards determine what the levels should be?

 The Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand base these levels on those set by the World Health Organisation. 

   C) When were they set? 

The current Drinking Water Standards were gazetted in October 2008

   D) How do they compare to WHO standards, and the standards set in overseas countries similar to New Zealand? 

The Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand are based on the World Health Organisation Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality.  In terms of the limits set for health and aesthetic determinants, the New Zealand standard is very similar to other countries e.g Iron – in the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand the guideline value for iron (based on aesthetic considerations) is set at 0.2mg/L  (meaning that the concentration should not exceed 0.2mg/L).  In Canada the aesthetic objective is 0.3mg/L, the USEPA has a ‘secondary drinking water regulation level’ of 0.3mg/L, the Australia Drinking Water Guidelines set the level at 0.3mg/L.  England and Wales have a level set at 0.2mg/L. 


3) David Edge indicated at the meeting last night that the CDHB keeps a vigilant eye on the council's water monitoring process. How does that happen? 

CDHB are provided with the results of compliance testing that is undertaken on the HDC drinking-water supplies.  In addition, CDHB undertake a range of audit and assessment activities to check HDC’s compliance with the Health Act and Drinking Water Standards.   Council’s have the responsibility to proactively manage risks to their water supplies through their water safety plans. 


4) High iron and calcium levels in the water were identified at last night's meeting as on-going problems with the Amberley/Leithfield water.

    A) Is this a problem with drinking water in other areas of New Zealand, and overseas?

It is not an uncommon problem, particularly with groundwater.  The degree of the problem is obviously dependent on the specific concentrations experienced. 

     B) What is the most likely, or possible, cause?

 Iron is the fourth most abundant element by weight in the earth’s crust and therefore occurs commonly in soils and rocks.  The presence of iron in groundwater is usually attributed to the dissolution of rocks and minerals.

 In an untreated supply sourced from groundwater (such as Amberley), the principal source of Calcium will be from the water being in contact with sedimentary rock (dissolving the calcium content from the rock). 


5) Levels of manganese contamination were also mentioned. 

     A) Is this a problem with drinking water in other areas of New Zealand, and overseas?

 Much the same as iron – it is not an uncommon problem particularly with groundwater, both in New Zealand and overseas. 

     B) What would cause manganese contamination?

 Manganese can reach the aquatic environment from the weathering of rocks and minerals and runoff from soils.  Manganese is a significant constituent of particular types of rock, such as basalt. 


3 February 2016

Amberley/Leithfield Water Supply Issues Meeting Questions and Answers

1  February 2016

We have started an on-going hydrant flushing program in an effort to improve water quality and clarity.

The list of hydrants below were flushed last Thursday (28 January), and we will be doing them again this Thursday (4 February) between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Our water officer will have the area marked with a cone and a sign identifying what’s going on. The water will be run to waste via the storm water drain system.

Disturbed sediment may result from the flushing, if you find this has happened at your property then please run a cold tap for a few minutes to clear this. Sometimes during the flushing program nearby residents may experience lower water pressure than normal, please note this will only be for a short time.

Thank you for your patience.

Update January 2016

HDC has received reports from Amberley and Leithfield residents that water heater elements have been failing due to the hardness of the water. Considering the current hardness and the limited number of issues arising, it is unlikely that hardness is the cause. Extensive investigation has been carried out, and research has shown that element failure is due to a number of different reasons, with the primary reasons listed below;

Water temperature

The higher the temperature the quicker the corrosion. In general the chemical reactions, double their speed with every 20 degree rise in temperature


The sacrificial anode in the water heater is designed to corrode over the life of the cylinder in preference to the steel body or element of the water heater.

Air pockets

Water heater elements must never operate unless immersed in water. An element generates enough heat that it can burn through its copper core in under a minute if the heat does not transfer to water. Air pockets can develop should the hot water system not be bled when filling a tank.

Power Surge

A sudden voltage increase to the element caused by a power surge can be enough to burn out an element. All heating elements have a voltage rating. Voltages above this rating will burn out the element. Ensure the circuit breaker(s) (fuses) are correctly rated and functioning correctly.


Heavy gauge wires feed electricity to the elements. A poor connection, or a wire that has slipped off a terminal can cause an element to stop working. These conditions also pose a safety problem because they could lead to arcing, or grounding through metal on the tank.


These devices have a high limit switch that shuts off power to the elements when temperatures exceed normal. If they are not working properly they can increase water temperature expediting the corrosion process

Dip tube

The role of the dip tube is to direct incoming cold replacement water to the bottom of the tank for heating. If the dip tube is faulty, the cold incoming water mixes with the hot water at the top of the tank and could overwork the element

Because the water is moderately hard, we recommend that you use element types designed for hard water - element manufacturers recommend a titanium type element to prolong the life expectancy in areas where hard water is prevalent.

Further Information:

The drinking water standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2008) indicate a maximum guideline value of 200 mg/L and advises “high hardness causes scale deposition, scum formation. Low hardness (<100) may be more corrosive”

Amberley water has a hardness recording of  109 as at January 2016.

The following chart is an indication of how hardness can be measured.


Total hardness



Slightly Hard


Moderately Hard




Very Hard

Above 180


Update 18 August 2015

Tomorrow we are testing and starting commissioning of the new Kowai Water mixing plant which will supply Amberley with water that will have reduced levels of hardness and iron. There might be some pressure reduction to the township, but this will only be temporary and will be put back to normal by 5pm tomorrow. We will be starting after 10am so as not to upset any people preparing for work.

During this transition there will still be water pressure but just not as great as normal.

Update October 2014

Over the last few weeks an informal survey has been looking into the extent of the iron and calcium nuisance issue in the Amberley water supply.

The Amberley Ward Committee last week considered the results of the survey and have decided that they will continue to progress with the “hydraulic network changes” option, which will bring extra, better quality water in from the Leithfield and the Racecourse bores and mix these before redistributing to Amberley customers.

This option can be implemented within the current budget, and also has the added advantage of providing additional water that will be very useful in peak demand times over summer.

Unfortunately this option will not completely solve the problem all together; but with the mixing and settling process it will make the nuisance much more diluted - and hopefully during low demand times most of the supply will be able to be drawn from the two superior sources meaning less traces of iron in the drinking water system.

However, if there was little water conservation during the peak demand times in summer, then water would still need to be drawn from the poorer quality Kowai Rover Road source and this would mean that higher iron levels would likely enter the supply once again – albeit greatly diluted compared to current levels.

This work has now been contracted out and will be completed over the next eight months.

The Amberley Ward Committee had been considering an option to assist a limited number of households to install filtration units at the point-of-entry to their houses. The survey found that there were already many households that had installed these successfully themselves and others that were considering to do so too. The committee decided not to pursue this option further at this point of time, but rather to focus on the global option of mixing the water sources. The iron testing in the drinking water supplies have shown a dramatic drop in iron levels and staff will continue to monitor this trend for further considered response.

The Committee has also directed Council officers to investigate an additional alternative better-quality deep well supply, and also to look at extending the storage security capacity of the township reservoir.

Update September 2014 : Survey

As we know, since the Canterbury earthquakes something strange has happened to the Amberley drinking water supply: It now has iron sediment showing up in it.

But what you may not be aware is that the locations where this is appearing and the iron levels aren’t consistent - in fact they appear to be quite random... Our testing has had fluctuating results, and the concerns raised by our customers seem to be intermittent as well.
We have seen evidence of iron staining on clothes and whiteware - but when  a water sample is taken it can be a normal result.
We have had experts investigating the issue and coming up with options to solve the problem (and to deal with Amberley’s long standing calcium/hardness water issue at the same time). Unfortunately, all of the options that have been generated will come at a cost to local ratepayers.
So before the council makes a decision on which solution to invest in, we need to ask you to help us: we need to know just how bad the problems are for you - and how much you are willing to pay to have them fixed.

Survey forms are currently being delivered to all Amberley Water Scheme customers, and we would very much appreciate it if you complete these and return them to us by 22 September. If you haven't received a copy of the survey form you can download one here, or collect one from the Amberley office or library.


Update July 2014

Last week, a presentation was given at the Amberley Ward Committee meeting highlighting the possible options and costs for progressing the removal of iron and hardness from the Amberley area water supply.

The presentation and ensuing questions from the committee were very thorough and lengthy, and the conclusion was to refer this discussion to the full Council.

There are five potential options. All have advantages and disadvantages - and most would equate to significant incurrence of debt and considerable rating increases.

The report that is being presented to the Council this Thursday is contained from page 79 in the agenda. It includes the options and financial considerations.

Update June 2014

The Amberley Ward Committee meeting has been rescheduled for 1 July 2014.  The meeting has been rescheduled so that the Amberley Ward Committee will have  the latest test results which in turn will help them decide a way forward for Amberley's water treatment.  The public are welcome to attend this meeting which will be held at 7.30pm on 1 July in the Council Chambers in Amberley.

Update May 2014

Amberley’s water has been the subject of many complaints in recent times. There have always been issues with hardness and calcification, but in the past couple of years there has also been an increase in iron levels in the water which have caused an unpleasant taste and also reports of staining on clothes and bathroom fittings.

As well as these ‘quality’ concerns, we are also concerned about the ‘quantity’ - of water availability – especially during peak demand in the summer months. More safe, secure and affordable water is needed before next summer or we could be facing water restrictions.

Investigations have been undertaken and late last year a report was presented to the Amberley Ward Committee. The report highlighted various options to achieve better quality drinking water, however none of these options were considered to be easy or cheap.

The Amberley Ward Committee considered the advantages, disadvantages, the cost-benefits and the risks. They then set up a joint working group with the goal of finding a preferred way forward. Members were nominated from the Amberley Ward Committee, the Ashley Rural Water Committee, and a Local Councillor.

The preferred solution proposes to combine five separate drinking-water intake sources (Racecourse; Mays; Leithfield Beach; State Highway 1; and Kowai River Road) across the two schemes. The proposal would solve both the quality and the quantity issues. The Amberley Ward Committee received conditional approval from the Ashley Rural Water Scheme to share water resources.

This solution was estimated at $700,000, and was accepted by the Amberley Ward Committee in principle, and approved by the Hurunui District Council as urgent work. Council officers were tasked with getting this project underway as quickly as possible. 

Sue Kelly Water Systems, a water treatment solutions provider with local experience, was commissioned by HDC to design, construct, supply and install the necessary engineering works, with the intention of having this solution in place and operational by 1 July this year.

Sue Kelly Water Systems came back earlier this month, and unfortunately the designed solution that they are proposing came in at $1.7 million (143% increase from the original estimate).

The significant capital cost increase was because of a multitude of reasons, with the main issue being that the iron levels have actually gotten dramatically worse since the initial assessment (increase of 0.44 mg/l to 1.14 mg/l – 160% increase). This means that the problem is now considerably bigger than the original first estimates, and the engineering works necessary to solve this issue have also become that much more substantial. The increasing iron issue is believed to be linked to changes in the greywacke substrata surrounding this ‘confined aquifer’; a possible result from the Canterbury earthquakes. Additional ancillary items which had not been included in the initial estimates includes site-surround security fencing, soft variable start mechanisms to the pumps and a back-up generator  for an on-demand water supply system (an additional $130,000 which is now included in the $1.7 million price tag). Substantial increased operating costs were also identified, including a requirement to use upwards of 320 kg of salt each day to reduce the hardness levels. The solution also identified the additional challenge of getting rid of the brine and iron waste afterwards in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The proposal was tabled at the Amberley Ward Committee last week and there was vigorous debate as to the next steps to resolve this nuisance issue. The committee was divided in opinion, with some believing that they should just “bite the bullet” as far as the increased costs are concerned and proceed with the recommended solution. Others felt that the iron could be removed within a lesser increased budget ($1.35 million – 93% increase) and that this should be done first and then the calcium hardness issue could be resolved at a later date. The final outcome was to delay the decision and for council officers to “look again” and to come back to the June meeting with other possible options.

This means that the current nuisance iron content in the drinking water supply will continue for a wee while yet, but council officers are working hard to bring options to the Ward Committee that will resolve this issue and are hopeful that a solution will be in place later this calendar year.

The council officers are optimistic that at the next meeting of the Amberley Ward Committee, members will have sufficient additional information to decide on a positive way forward. The public are welcome to attend this meeting which has been moved to 7.30pm on 1 July in the Council Chambers in Amberley.