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Application for flood costs should go this week

Joint application for flood costs should go this week

A joint application for the recovery of flood-related costs should be ready to send off to central Government this week, says Environment Bay of Plenty.

Chief executive Jeff Jones says the process of compiling the application has taken longer than expected, with the initial deadline set for late August. The delay was because of the necessity for good communication between the three parties, Environment Bay of Plenty, Whakatane District Council and Opotiki District Council, he explains.

In Environment Bay of Plenty’s case, the application seeks reimbursement from the Disaster Relief Fund for urgent work carried out during July’s emergency and for repairs to damaged stopbanks, drains and river protection works, which are ongoing. It is expected to cost more than $10 million.

The Government’s Disaster Relief Fund could fund up to 60% of response and recovery costs. Mr Jones is also hoping for a contribution from a special government assistance fund specifically for communities with a “severely limited” ability to pay. “Meanwhile, we are getting on with the job,” Mr Jones says. “We don’t know how much the Government will pay of it but haven’t really had a choice. Some of the damage caused by the flood puts the integrity of the river schemes at risk - so we couldn’t delay repairs, even though they are expensive. It wouldn’t have been safe to wait until we heard about funding.”

He looks forward to the Government’s answer, “so we can proceed with some confidence with the rest of the repair work”.

“If central Government funding is not forthcoming, we are going to have to consider very carefully, in consultation with scheme ratepayers, the extent to which they can afford to reinstate the schemes. It could result in a reconsideration of scheme standards, which would in my opinion be a retrograde step.” Worst hit are two major river schemes, the Rangitaiki-Tarawera Rivers Scheme and Whakatane-Waimana Rivers Scheme, which both feed into the Rangitaiki Plains. Environment Bay of Plenty manages the schemes for river scheme ratepayers, who pay 90% of the costs for their upkeep.

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