The Alert Level lockdowns may have briefly halted work on Ashburton's new pump station and wastewater pipeline upgrades, but great progress is being made to deliver the $7 million project on time for residents.
Seipp Construction, working on behalf of the Council, are installing a new and larger wastewater pipeline under the Ashburton River from Milton Road South to Wilkins Road outside Tinwald which will connect to a new pump station being built on Wilkins Road. The contractors are now more than halfway across the river with the new pipe, and work is now well underway on the pump station.
Activity has also picked up again at the end of Milton Road South, and residents who walk or ride the Ashburton River Trail are being advised to be mindful of machinery and increased traffic in the area.
Chair of the Council's Infrastructure Services Committee, Stuart Wilson says the project is making good progress and that it will help support Ashburton's growth for many years to come.
"Significant infrastructure upgrades like this are as important as ever as we look to support our community and encourage growth in the years ahead. The Council is very pleased to be investing in this project for the benefit of residents' now and well into the future.
"The technical skill to install this pipeline while also keeping the water flowing and looking out for the wellbeing of fish and birds in the area is also impressive."
A number of Councillors and staff visited the construction site recently to assess progress, and were shown the work currently happening on the pump station.
At the end of May, the contractors poured more than 50 cubic metres of concrete to form the pump station base which is 10m below ground level. They have since begun working on the steel reinforcement for the walls.
To date, more than 1,100m of sheet piles have been dug into the riverbed to help control the flow of water and allow for the pipeline to be installed. In some places, the pipe is being laid up to 6.8m underground.
Service Delivery Group Manager Neil McCann says managing the water is one of the biggest ongoing challenges for the project.
"Water from the river surface is one factor, but controlling the water table underground is also a big consideration. There are five large de-watering pumps working to keep the water table below the pipe installation level. This water is then stored in a settling pond before being discharged in an environmentally friendly manner."
He adds that although the COVID-19 restrictions over March and April pushed out the construction schedule, extra resource is being allocated to help get the programme back on track.
"The lockdowns may have disrupted the work programme, but with more resources being directed its way, we should still expect the project to be completed in December this year."
Work began on the project in November 2019.
Watch a recent flyover video of the work progress: