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Many months to finish flood repair work

10 September 2004

Many months to finish flood repair work, says regional council

For immediate release: Friday 10 September 2004 Stopbanks, canals and river protection works damaged by July’s floods are being repaired at a very quick rate but it will take many months to finish the job, says Environment Bay of Plenty.

Nearly two months after the event, rivers and drainage staff are still tied up almost full time with flood-related work, on the Rangitaiki Plains, the Whakatane River and in the upper reaches of the Rangitaiki catchment. “It’s a massive task,” says Bruce Crabbe, manager of rivers and drainage. “We won’t be back to normal for a long while yet.”

Environment Bay of Plenty and river scheme liaison groups have drawn up a priority list for the work, focusing first on at-risk areas of major stopbanks. With much of the top priority tasks now complete, staff are spending more time in the catchment’s upper areas, particular in places where the river has changed course over farmland. Where possible, temporary repairs have been made so farmers can regain access to cut-off paddocks, Mr Crabbe says.

Mr Crabbe says working from a schedule of set priorities is very tough. “It is extremely difficult because some farmers are having to wait – and, in the meantime, their livelihood may be being affected and the damage could be getting worse. Some jobs at the lower end of the priority list may have to wait until uncertainty about funding is sorted.”

Environment Bay of Plenty is currently repairing four sites along the Whakatane River, with rockwork at Eivers Road almost finished. It has four major sites on the Rangitaiki River and various others elsewhere. Mr Crabbe says the work is progressing “at full speed” but needs careful planning. “It’s not just a matter of throwing rocks over the side of a stopbank to fill in an eroded area. Sometimes, we have to build roads inside the stopbank wall to actually gain access. Each job has its own technical challenges too. We have to do it properly or we can end up creating a weak point, which might cause problems later.”

Environment Bay of Plenty manages 350km of drains and canals. “Many are full of silt and sediment from the flooding. They have to be cleaned out too.”

ENDS

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