The firefighter helped fill up the swimming pool from a hydrant. Photo: NZ Herald/123rf

Town sucked dry of water after firefighter fills school pool


A firefighter has drained an entire town’s water supply after filling up a school swimming pool from a hydrant in a small South Island town.

The reservoir at Collingwood, a rural town about 130km northwest of Nelson, has been completely emptied after the firefighter filled the pool at Collingwood Area School.

Tasman District Council utilities manager Mike Schruer told Fairfax the whole town’s water supply had been “sucked out”.

The town had no water to fight fires, and it has also affected its drinking water.

The school faces a large bill for the filling up of the pool, with Schruer called an “extremely risky operation”, one which created a “significant public health and fire risk”, Fairfax reported.

The firefighter helped fill up the pool in November. Collingwood volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Graeme Miller said firefighters had other water options available, including 30,000 litre tank and a dam behind the school.

Schruer told councillors using the hydrant to fill up the pool was a “real concern”, Fairfax reported.

It also reduced chlorine levels and pH levels in the town’s water, creating a public health risk, Schruer told Fairfax.

He said it took about 12 hours for the reservoir to get back to normal levels.

Collingwood Area School board of trustees chairman Vincent Andrew told Fairfax the Fire Service were keen to help filling up the pool.

Miller said it was believed that taking little amounts at night wouldn’t affect the reservoir too much, Fairfax reported.

“Obviously it does. I didn’t know the amount we could take out of it. We’ve all learnt lessons.”

Andrew said the pool was now looking “absolutely fantastic”, Fairfax reported.

Schruer told councillors a letter had been sent to the Fire Service advising them of concerns around using the hydrant, and the school had been sent a bill for the water used and investigation costs when it was initially believed there was a leak.


– Story by NZ Herald