The population explosion in North Waikato has forced council to tap into the super city's water main to secure supply for escapees of Auckland's maddening housing market.

The valves opened for Pokeno residents to take some of Watercare's average consumption of 37 million litres of water each day - paid for through a Waikato District Council annual targeted rate of $200 and $1.70 for 1000 litres consumed.


The large scale Pokeno Village development and the $212 million Yashili  infant milk formula factory has seen population figures explode and was expected to reach between 5000 and 6000 by 2046.


Chairwoman of the Pokeno community group Helen Clotworthy said the village's water supply was near dry and the growth the catalyst for action.


She said new residents arriving in town expected to be able to turn their taps on to access fresh, clean, new water. That had put pressure on current water services.


Most of the new residents were former Aucklanders, she said. Escapees she now called North Waikato-ites who had swooped on the sprawling residential developments.


"Why it's been so successful is they have all been able to sell and get a new house here and have some money left over."


Waikato District Council gave the green light to tap Watercare's pipeline and bulk supply water to Pokeno and Tuakau with a $2.6m pipeline.


There was also a $4.9m wastewater system upgrade for Pokeno and Tuakau.


The old water supply was high in iron and manganese and stained linen, bathroom vanities and toilet bowls with a brownish tinge.


The colour also put people off consuming the water and Clotworthy said residents were thrilled with the clean, secure water supply.


"This has developed faster than anybody would have thought," said Clotworthy. "That water was running out, we didn't have any waste water here at all and all of those people were moving in."


Waikato District Council project manager for service delivery Nick Mounsey said the rate of development forced their hand but the system was expected to withstand population growth in the future.


"It secures it," he said. "Watercare has pretty much guaranteed supply but they're adding more into their system as well to make it more robust."


Elton Smallman

 - Stuff


Image: Waikato District Council project manager Nick Mounsey and Pokeno community group chairwoman Helen Clotworthy toast the town's new water supply.

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