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Exploratory Harbour Bores

Looking for fresh-water alternatives

  • Wellington, New Zealand

    Wellington, New Zealand

Resilience planning for the City of Wellington meant finding another source of fresh water in case of disaster

Wellingtonians are acutely aware of the looming threat of ‘the big one’, a severe earthquake that would damage critical infrastructure including power and water services. In particular, the city’s major water feed pipes are located alongside State Highway 2 (sitting precariously on top of a main faultline). The pipes are predicted to fail in 30 places in a 7.6 magnitude quake, and parts of Wellington are likely to be without water for up to 100 days after an event like this. 

There were multiple options including another pipe route—costing approximately $100M—or tapping into a potential underwater aquifer. 

Starting with a desktop study and seismic survey, our teams set out to identify any fatal flaws that would stop development or utilisation of the potential underwater aquifer. We also looked at optimal locations to drill the test bores. After completing two exploratory bores (approximately 2.5 kilometres apart), we confirmed the aquifer’s location as expected—and the water was treatable. 

With the discovery of treatable fresh water, the team and the city of Wellington are excited to continue exploring the viability of this alternate source of water. Something to have in case of emergency. Estimates hold that this extra source would reduce time without water for locals from 100 days to 30 or fewer.

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