Dunedin has had a water supply of one sort or another since it was first settled. We have constantly reviewed and upgraded its systems to match growing demand.
Early water collection in Dunedin
The first settlers drew their water from the creeks and springs in the area below the town belt. The Maclaggan Street, London Street and Regent Road creeks were the principal sources. In 1860, the Town Board tapped a spring in High Street and erected a public pump at the Manse Street corner.
Ross Creek Reservoir is built
The private Water Works Company (WWC) was formed in 1864, and, after many trials and tribulations completed the Ross Creek reservoir. The reservoir was opened on 9 December 1867, something of an anti-climax because of a break in the water main! Ongoing friction between the Dunedin City Council (us) and the WWC meant we took over the system in 1875. The Ross Creek reservoir only supplied the area below the town belt. With increasing demands above and below the town belt, the city's water supply needed further expansion.
Silverstream, Waters of Leith and Deep Stream are tapped
After droughts and a major fire in 1877, we proceeded with a new supply from the Silverstream Catchment. A 29 km race from the Silver Stream to the Southern Reservoir was constructed. This system was officially opened in 1881. However, this reservoir did not supply water to the higher hill suburbs of Dunedin.
By 1904, the main tributary of the Leith had been tapped and water was piped so that the Maori Hill, Roslyn and Mornington suburbs could be reticulated. Sullivans Dam at the headwaters of the Leith was completed in 1916. In 1923, the storage of the Southern Reservoir was increased from 103,400 cubic metres to its present day capacity of approximately 204,090 cubic metres.
Dunedin's water supply system was expanded in 1936, to take water from Deep Creek, approximately 64 km from Dunedin. In the late 1940s, the water supply position was again precarious, so the Taieri bores system was developed and completed in 1956. The Silverstream race (an open channel) was piped in two stages - in 1951 in anticipation of the Taieri bores installation, and later in conjunction with the development of the Wingatui supply. The Wingatui supply was developed to provide water to the townships of Wingatui, Fairfield, and Waldronville in what was known as the Taieri County.
By 1967, it was apparent that Dunedin's water supply system would soon be unable to cope with increasing demands. The construction and commissioning of the Deep Stream water supply scheme followed by 1977.
Water supply developments in Dunedin's outer suburbs
Mosgiel residents used rainwater collected from their roofs, but by 1905 a supply from Leishmans Creek near Whare Flat was established. By early 1928, this supply was augmented by the first Mosgiel Borough Council bore in Factory Road. Another followed in the early 1940s. Periodic dry spells and evidence of pollution led to the phasing out of the Whare Flat supply and the development in the 1960s and 1970s of the bores which still service this area. In December 2017 all 9 operational Mosgiel bores were shut down and water is now supplied from Mt Grand Water Treatment Plant.
Port Chalmers, like metropolitan Dunedin, has an elderly water system. The Rossville Dam, in Sawyers Bay, was built in 1875 and was augmented with the Cedar Farm Dam in 1953. A treatment plant built in 1978 to serve the Port Chalmers area was upgraded in the late 1980s.
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