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Stopbanks being strengthened

27 July 2004

Stopbanks being strengthened as more rain forecast for eastern Bay of Plenty

For immediate release: Tuesday 27 July 2004, 3pm With more rain on its way, Environment Bay of Plenty is working to further strengthen flood-damaged stopbanks before levels start to rise again on the Rangitaiki River.

The MetService is expecting between 25 and 50mm of rain on the Rangitaiki Plains and 60 to 90mm in the surrounding hills over the next few days, with the heaviest falls on Thursday.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s Bruce Fraser says this amount of rain could result in low flood levels on the Whakatane River and moderate flood levels on the Rangitaiki River.

Rising water levels could put more pressure on the Rangitaiki River’s stopbanks, especially at the 100-metre breach upstream of Edgecumbe. The breach is now filled to well above normal water levels and a low stopbank is being built in a wide curve around it. However staff have noted water seepage at the edges of the breach. “With the ground as saturated as it is, and more rain coming, that is a cause for concern,” Mr Fraser says.

However, TrustPower has been spilling water from the Matahina Dam in anticipation of the rainfall since mid-afternoon yesterday. “This should give the dam enough storage capacity to keep the Rangitaiki River at a safe level,” Mr Fraser says.

Environment Bay of Plenty is also focused on an area of Rangitaiki River stopbank gouged by floodwater 10 days ago. It is located on a curve downstream of Te Teko, near the Kokohinau Marae. Staff have already shored up behind the damaged area and are now working to strengthen it further.

Over the next few days, staff will monitor stopbanks constantly “to make sure they’re doing the job”, Mr Fraser says.

Meanwhile, the process of pumping water from the flooded Rangitaiki Plains is going well. Four shipping containers are now in place at controlled cuts in river and canal stopbanks. They are closed off at high tide to ensure river water does not flow out onto the plains. When the river water falls again, they are opened to allow floodwater to return to the river.

Dry weather is forecast for the Bay of Plenty over the weekend.


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