Auckland drought: Why floating desalination plants got the thumbs down – New Zealand

One or even two huge floating desalination plants, to turn seawater into fresh water, were briefly considered as solutions to Auckland’s drought-driven water shortage.

Each of the barges could have supplied 6 per cent of Auckland’s water needs, from a location on Manukau Harbour, but would have come with a big financial and environmental cost.

The desalination barge idea was canvassed in a confidential report to the June meeting of the board of Auckland Council subsidiary Watercare, obtained by Stuff.


$180m fund to keep Auckland’s taps flowing – New Zealand

Auckland’s water supplier could need to spend up to $180m urgently to find alternative sources of water if insufficient rains fall through winter, worsening the city’s drought.

The spending is signalled in Auckland Council’s emergency Covid-19 recovery budget and would pay to extend treatment for Waikato River water, for ‘modular’ treatment plants at Pukekohe and near an unused source at Papakura plus possible new measures such as desalination of seawater.

Watercare, the council company that runs the water and wastewater systems, has already committed to about $70m of the spending to try to get ahead of a potentially severe drought through next summer. The $180m total is the top end of its contingency in case rains don’t start to re-fill storage lakes in the Hunua and Waitakere ranges.


Auckland’s water supply in doubt following dispute over Waikato River water usage

Auckland Council’s Watercare is planning to use the river to meet the next thirty years of Auckland’s population growth, but local iwi and the Waikato Regional Council don’t want that to happen.

It means Auckland may have to look elsewhere for its water supply, and that could be costly.

The once-in-a-generation drought has unveiled some interesting things – like old railway tunnels – and some concerning things – like the tense disagreement over whether Auckland can continue taking water from the Waikato River to supply its growing population.