Government to fund lion’s share of Ohakea water scheme

  • Hon David Parker

The Government will fund the bulk of the cost of a rural water supply for the Ohakea community affected by PFAS contamination, Environment Minister David Parker announced today at a meeting of local residents.

This new water scheme will provide a reliable and clean source of drinking water to the community near the Ohakea Air Force Base. 

“The Ohakea community has been living for two years with the knowledge that PFAS is in their groundwater, during which time they have relied on temporary supplies via the NZ Defence Force,” David Parker said.

“I would like to thank them for their patience as we have worked with the councils and the NZDF to find a sustainable, long term solution to this problem.”

Groundwater in the area has low level contamination from the historic use of specialist firefighting foams at the Ohakea base. The foams have since been banned, but their legacy remains.

Under the new scheme, around 85 rural properties will be supplied with reticulated clean drinking and stock water rather than having to rely on tanks and bores.

“I met the Mayors and Chair of the Manawatū, Rangitikei and Horizons councils last week to outline the funding proposal. The Government will fund $10.8 million of the costs of design and construction of the new water scheme. That will cover some 75 per cent of the cost. The Manawatu District Council will fund the balance,” David Parker said.

“I expect the formal agreement will be finalised in the New Year. A lot of the design work has already been done. Resource consents will be applied for next year. Construction of the new scheme is expected to commence later in 2020.”

Manawatū District Mayor Helen Worboys welcomed the announcement.

“This is a positive outcome that now allows Council to have a conversation with the affected community, to provide a safe, quality water scheme for both human and stock consumption,” she said.