Three months on from the devastating August severe weather, the main break in the Maitai Raw Water Pipeline from the Maitai Dam has been fully repaired, and this key lifeline asset is once again reconnected to our water supply.

The repair is the result of 11 weeks of hard work by Nelson City Council staff and a dedicated team of contractors and consultants. 

“A job of this size would normally take more than half a year to complete,” says Group Manager Infrastructure Alec Louverdis. 

“But the team involved had a really strong grasp of the urgency of the project. They were required to quickly analyse plans, schedule contractors, ensure the availability of equipment and supplies in a way that didn’t sacrifice quality or health and safety protocols.  

“Managing that in the timeframe they had available was like solving a difficult jigsaw puzzle against the clock.”  

The first piece of the puzzle was restoring access to the site and repairing the Maitai Valley Road, which was severely damaged from floods and slips in several locations.  

“This alone was a major engineering feat, but the team then had to develop a plan for repairing a 12 metre missing section of the pipeline—167 metres up from the road, across the river, up on a very steep hillside with no easy way to transport supplies to the site.” 

The repair team developed an innovative solution using a forestry hauling machine from Moir Logging. This piece of equipment, typically used to raise logs up a hill with a cable, was modified to lift a bridge, pipes and equipment up to the worksite. Louverdis says everyone involved in the repair deserves the highest praise for the effort and ingenuity put into the work. 

“The teams developed solutions to problems as they arose and communicated as much as possible face-to-face or on the phone. This shows the resilience and expertise of all involved. We were all very conscious of the need to restore this critical asset for our community as soon as possible.” 

Nelson Mayor Nick Smith welcomed the pipe’s successful repair and thanked Council’s engineering staff and contractors. 

“The repair of this critical pipe is a major milestone in our recovery from the devastating August weather event. 

“We are fortunate that Council invested a decade ago in a smaller duplicate pipe that was also nearly lost. This restoration of the main pipe allows me to breath more easily knowing the city’s water supply is secure. 

“It’s easy to take for granted that our homes and businesses have quality drinking water on tap 365 days a year. Many cities would have lost supply during a weather event of the scale that hit us in August.” 

Staff are now turning their attention to building a pedestrian bridge alongside the pipeline to restore full pedestrian and cyclist access to the Coppermine Trail.  

Thank you to all Council staff, consultants, and contractors who worked on this project: 
Fulton Hogan, Tonkin + Taylor, Staig & Smith Ltd., Ground Anchor Systems, Moir Logging, Thelin Construction, Helliwell Contracting Ltd., and Lift N Shift Ltd.