Road plan is not the answer


A proposal by the Waitaki District Council to lift two roads in Totara affected by flooding could make the situation worse for nearby landowners, Totara farmer Jock Webster says.

The council completed a survey of Fortification Rd and Station Rd yesterday to determine what type of intervention is required to safeguard them from future flooding damage.

It is believed increases in the size of the Deborah aquifer, which covers an area from Airedale to Waianakurua, has been contributing to flooding events in the Totara area since May 2013.

These floods prompted Mr Webster to organise a petition from those affected and present it to the Waitaki District Council.

Mr Webster said the proposed project would overcome the problem from the council’s point of view in terms of keeping the roads open but it would make the flooding worse for nearby landowners.

“I’d be quite disappointed if they rushed into building up the road without talking to the landowners.

“It’s their job to keep the roads open, which we all appreciate, but there’s also some other people that are affected by the flooding.

“It’s nothing to do with the council but if the council and the private landowners work together there might be some benefit for everybody.”

Mr Webster said he felt there were better options for fixing the flooding in terms of drainage that needed to be looked into.

WDC assets committee chairman and Corriedale councillor Bill Kingan said the council were hoping to raise several parts of the two roads to prevent them from being affected by flooding.

While this step will be of some help it would not make much difference until combined with Otago Regional Council plans of working out ways to drain the area, he said.

“It’s good to see some action.”

WDC roading manager Michael Voss said the surveying work was completed yesterday and it is likely that the flood protection work will start in the early part of 2015 before the weather changes and the district experiences more flooding.

Careful consideration must be given to how these roads are modified, not only to minimise damage from future flooding but to also be mindful that the work carried out does not shift the problem from these roads to other areas, he said.

“The surveying will give us some valuable information as to how best to lift these roads without the problems simply being moved elsewhere.

“We have seen significant damage done from flooding events so this work needs to protect our roads against future flooding.”

The results from the surveying will be looked at over the next week or so to find out what needs to be done, Mr Voss said.

The project is estimated to cost $70,000, with that money having been funded by the New Zealand Transport Agency a couple of weeks ago.

However, the cost will depend on what the surveying finds, he said.

WDC have been consulting with NZTA over the last few months to get the funding approved.

In the interim, Mr Webster has been pumping water from the Springfield Road pond via the Mitchell and Webster irrigation line into the Waiareka Creek.

The worst affected roads have been Springfield, Fortification and Gees roads which have been flooded to varying degrees since May 2013.

Mr Webster had previously said water pooling in the Totara area was an old problem because the underlying clay was impervious and had led to drains being put in many years ago, which had since become blocked.


PHOTO: Flooding on Springfield Rd, Totara.

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