Stead Street pump station replacement
Environment Southland is replacing the Stead Street Pump Station with a new energy-efficient, fish-friendly facility. The project is driven by the age and type of the existing infrastructure, a requirement to bolster climate resilience for Murihiku Southland’s largest urban centre, Waihōpai Invercargill (population 57,000 +), and the aspirations of Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku to have the health of the Kōreti New River Estuary restored.
The pump station is part of a comprehensive flood protection scheme that helps to protect Invercargill City and nationally critical infrastructure (Invercargill airport) from inundation. Stead Street also provides an important road between Invercargill and Otatara.
While much of the city is low-lying, Invercargill Airport is close to sea level. Because of this, the airport is surrounded by a comprehensive drainage network, including stop banks, ring drains and pumps. Several of these assets are owned and maintained by Invercargill City Council, and some are managed by Environment Southland.
In 1984, the airport was extensively flooded to depths up to 3m through the terminal buildings. The primary sources of that floodwater – the Waihōpai River, Waikiwi Stream and Oreti River – underwent significant flood protection upgrades following the 1984 flood.
In March 2016, a phenomenon known as storm surge caused the sea to spill onto Stead Street, resulting in road closures and surface flooding of the land surrounding the airport. Storm surge occurs when sea levels rise during intense weather events. Climate change-induced sea level rise will increase the frequency and severity of these events.
The need to replace the Stead Street Pump Station is also driven by the age of the existing infrastructure, which was installed in the early 1960s. The new pump station is being built beside the existing structure and will house two new fish-friendly pumps manufactured by a supplier in the Netherlands. It aims to protect the area from inundation for the next 50 years. This pump station is critical to the 116 properties in the immediate area and is a lifeline for the airport, supporting 320,000 passengers plus freight each year.
Unlike the original pumps, the new pumps allow for the safe passage of native fish, including large tuna or freshwater eels. Their design is based on Archimedes' screw pump technology, where fish are transported up through the pump without harm. They are very light, don't require much power, and are simple, requiring much less maintenance.
The new pump house is being constructed alongside the existing pump station, which will remain operational until the new pumps have been fully commissioned. The outlet pipes run under the road to the estuary and can be closed during extreme tides or storm events.
A temporary speed limit of 30kph is in place for a 300 m section of Stead Street adjacent to the pump station to help manage vehicle traffic while the project is underway.
Traffic is currently restricted to one lane, operating under traffic lights from either side of the new pump station site, while contractors complete the remaining work laying the outlet pipes from the centre line towards the estuary. We expect two lanes to be reinstated by October 9.
A section of the shared cycle and pedestrian pathway at the site is also unavailable. Cyclists and pedestrians are being diverted around the site via a temporary path whilst Fulton Hogan constructs the viewing platform, which will be completed by late October.
The shared pathway will be fully reinstated in November, and resealing will then be undertaken as soon as weather permits.
In 2020, Environment Southland secured $2.25 million of funding from central government as a contribution to assist in replacing the ageing Stead Street Pump Station, one of the council’s six climate resilience projects co-funded in the region.
The new Stead Street Pump Station is a Resilient River Communities project. Resilient River Communities is a joint initiative between Kānoa - the Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, regional councils, and local authorities focused on developing and upgrading vital river management and flood protection schemes in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The initial bid for government funding in 2020 was based on replacement axial flow pumps and a modest pump house at an estimated cost of $3.5 million. The original pump station design was unsuitable for these new-generation pumps.
Design works for the upgraded pump station mean that the contract price for the pump station is $8.3 million. This brings the projected total construction cost, including the design and provision of fish-friendly Archimedes screw pumps, to $11 million.
Council borrowed the required funds to ensure works could begin as scheduled, with initial plans to repay debt over a minimum of 25 years. Council is also investigating options for increased third-party funding to ensure ratepayer contribution is minimised.
- Increased protection for our homes, communities, and critical infrastructure
- Project delivered with central government funding
- Twenty-seven km of waterways that operate as the drainage network opened up to safe fish passage for indigenous species
- Multi-collaborative effort to design and construct Mahi Toi elements in front of the new pump station building
Project update (28 September 2023)
- Design for a new station to house the pumps completed and works contracted September 2022
- New pumps designed, built and delivered to Invercargill September 2022
- Whakawātea/cultural blessing to mark the beginning of the construction of the new pump station
- Fulton Hogan on site from October 2022
- Drain realignment and fish salvage operation undertaken in November 2022
- Pump station foundations: first pour completed February 2022; sheet piling cofferdam and foundation slab completed March 2022
- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) design and coordination underway with Environment Southland IT installing the required components to support the InfoSCADA infrastructure
- Concept plans for Mahi Toi (cultural narrative artwork) presented to Council May 2023 with detailed design and fabrication now underway
- Concrete pump house walls are nearing completion
- Laying of the outlet pipes from the new pump station building to Koretī New River Estuary completed early September
- Construction of a viewing platform above outlet pipes and overlooking the estuary underway from September to late October
- Completing below-ground works across Stead Street, infilling and reinstating two lanes
- Removing the sheetpiles in the estuary
- Road resurfacing
- Continuing with the pump station build and installation of twin Archimedes screw pumps
- Installation of Mahi Toi, which will adorn the front exterior of the pump station and the viewing platform