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Tough decisions needed for flood repair work

10 August 2004

Tough decisions needed for flood repair work

For immediate release: Tuesday 10 August 2004 Environment Bay of Plenty and river scheme ratepayers are having to make a series of “extremely tough calls” when sorting priorities for flood repair work.

The regional council’s group manager operational services Clive Tozer says the top priority at the moment is to ensure vulnerable sections of stopbanks in the lower Whakatane and Rangitaiki Rivers are made safe. “This is because they protect so many properties, both rural and urban. Our staff have identified areas of weakened stopbanks and are working urgently to repair them.”

After that, Environment Bay of Plenty will deal with the most critical of the damaged sites in the upper Rangitaiki River catchment, such as around Galatea and the upper Whakatane-Waimana area. Environment Bay of Plenty is already working in the upper reach areas where there is a risk of further river breakouts.

Mr Tozer says Environment Bay of Plenty is facing huge demands on its resources. There are also financial constraints to the work and uncertainty about the level of government assistance available for it.

Staff are currently preparing works cost estimates for all areas and will be talking these through with the different river scheme liaison groups. “Repairing such a large number of eroded sites is going to cost a substantial amount of money and we will need to have consulted scheme ratepayer representatives before going ahead with expensive repairs. We will also need guidance from our ratepayer liaison groups about which jobs we should do and what priority they should have.”

A number of farmers have been seriously impacted by the storm event and “this is a very difficult time for them”, Mr Tozer says. “We have noted that in some areas, a stretch of a river or a tributary had flowed out of its original channel, bisecting farmland or eroding the edges of paddocks.

“We have seen this both from the ground and the air and agree with farmers that we need to help them deal with that. Unfortunately, there is just too much damage in too many places and we can’t be everywhere at once. But we want to reassure them that we are aware of their concerns, have logged them, and are doing all we can to get to them as soon as possible.”

Meetings with scheme liaison members are expected to start next week.

The region has four major river schemes, the Rangitaiki-Tarawera Rivers Scheme, Whakatane-Waimana Rivers Scheme, Kaituna Catchment Control Scheme and Waioeka-Otara Rivers Scheme.

ENDS

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