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Work starts on filling stopbank breach

MEDIA RELEASE

Work starts on filling stopbank breach For immediate release: Thursday 22 July 2004, noon

Environment Bay of Plenty will put “an all out effort” into filling a breach in the Rangitaiki River stopbank now that heavy vehicles can access the site. Early this morning, after a night of activity, workers finished building a 700 metre long road to the breach, located just above Edgecumbe.

“It’s been fantastic to get this part of the job completed so quickly,” says Environment Bay of Plenty’s group manager community relations Bruce Fraser. It will take more than 16,000 tonnes of gravel and rock to fill the gap, which is 100m wide and at least five metres deep. The stopbank will then have to be re-built above it. It is likely to take several days to finish the job.

Fortunately, Rangitaiki River levels fell again overnight to just over two metres above normal levels, logged at the Te Teko gauge upriver. Because of the lower flow, nearly all the water passing through the gap is now sitting in a “pond” scoured out by the force of the water when the breach happened. Any remaining river water is contained within the floodway.

Shipping containers A shipping container is now guarding a deep controlled cut in the stopbank below the Thornton bridge near the coast. The container is being closed off at high tide to ensure river water does not flow out onto the Rangitaiki Plains. When the river water falls again, it is opened to allow floodwater to return to the river and move out to sea. “Using this system, we can safely make deeper cuts that allow more water to flow off the flooded areas more quickly.” Four more containers are being built to use on further controlled cuts.

Floodwater over the Rangitaiki Plains Large stretches of floodwater still cover parts of the Rangitaiki Plains. Environment Bay of Plenty is coordinating pumping operations with landowners and have a large number of pumps coming into the area. The Rangitaiki Plains has 41 Environment Bay of Plenty-managed pumping stations and many others that are privately owned. Most are working “flat out, 24 hours a day” to try and clear the floodwater, Mr Fraser says. Four or five of the council’s stations have been damaged by water and are out of action until the pumps can be reached, dried and their electrics replaced.

On the north-eastern side of the Rangitaiki Plains, near Whakatane, water is draining gradually into the Whakatane River, helped by large flood pumps and gravity. This is the area between the Orini Canal, the Kope Canal and Powdrell Road.

The Te Rahu basin at Poroporo is not draining away as quickly. Environment Bay of Plenty has made a controlled cut into the Te Rahu canal to try and speed up the process.

While these are high priority, there are many other areas affected by flooding, particularly at Opotiki, Waimana and Waiotahi.

ENDS

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