Titirangi residents join water fight

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Titirangi residents think Watercare should build on the existing water treatment site.

Titirangi residents have joined their neighbours in the small community of Oratia to oppose a proposed $300 million-plus water treatment plant.

"The critical thing here is for the two communities to stand together against Watercare's outrageous proposals to damage our communities," said Titirangi Residents and Ratepayers Association chairwoman Mels Barton.

"We are all communities of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area and we are always going to support each other against a corporate council-controlled organisation that clearly doesn't care about the damage they are doing.

There is a win-win-win possible for Oratia, Titirangi and Watercare
Mels Barton, Titirangi Residents and Ratepayers Association

"We have been through worse threats to our Heritage Area than this before by standing together and protecting our area and we will do so again now," Barton said.

Watercare has identified two possible sites on the narrow, dead end Parker Rd in Oratia for the new plant to replace the 90-year-old Huia plant, which treats water from the dams in the Waitakere Ranges.

Other options are to rebuild on the current site at Manuka Rd, Titirangi - which would take out 20 per cent of the city's water for at least two years - or build beside the site. Both these sites are in a protected ecological zone with native bush.

The association has told Watercare it would not consider a new plant in Titirangi until Watercare and Auckland Council give an assurance about continued public access to Exhibition Drive.

Following feedback, the association thinks the Manuka Rd site the most suitable, but as long as every effort is made to protect vegetation through sensitive design.

"There is a win-win-win possible for Oratia, Titirangi and Watercare with the solution obvious and we encourage everyone to give written feedback to Watercare demanding that the Manuka Rd site is chosen on the proviso that Exhibition Drive is retained in public ownership and with public access in perpetuity."

Watercare has now invited residents to come to Huia Water Treatment Plant on Saturday March 25 and Sunday March 26 to ask questions about proposed options to replace the plant.

Staff will provide guided tours, starting at 9am and finishing at 4pm.

Visitors can ask questions about how the plant itself operates as they walk around and further talk to experts at the end of the tour.

Watercare's environment and consents manager Mark Bourne said the company had listened to the Titirangi and Oratia communities.

"We understand they have many more questions, so we think this event will go a long way to addressing this.

"Many people have never seen an operating plant before and this is a good way of showing everyone what they look like and seeking further information about the different site options at the same time."

Bookings were essential and groups would be taken through the plant in groups of 10.

Watercare has stressed the final plans and number of properties affected have still to be determined.

The new plant would be more efficient and boost water treatment by up to 15 per cent. Along with a new pipeline to North Harbour, it would help meet the growth needs of northwest Auckland.

Those wanting to take a plant tour can email Maxine Clayton at Maxine.Clayton@water.co.nz or call 09- 539 8378 by March 20 to make a booking.

Visitors are asked to state their preference for a morning or afternoon tour.

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