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Co-Ordinator Appointed To Solve Flooding Problems

The Government has appointed a co-ordinator to find solutions to flooding problems along the Clutha River, in response to requests from Central Otago communities, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"After discussions with local authorities we have decided to appoint engineer and former Central Electric Chief Executive Alex Adams as the Clutha Solutions Co-ordinator. Mr Adams is highly regarded in Central Otago and I am delighted that he has accepted the appointment."

Mr Adams, who is based in Alexandra, will help local authorities to find long-term solutions to the flooding problems that caused widespread damage in the townships of Alexandra, Queenstown and Wanaka last week. He is expected to begin work on 6 December.

Mrs Shipley said Ministers and Government officials visited the flooded region last week to assess the damage and they had also spoken to local authorities about the best way to avoid similar problems in future.

"The local people clearly expressed their desire for a co-ordinator to work with all stakeholders in finding ways of reducing the likelihood of future flooding along the river.

"Mr Adams will work with local government entities, central government, and all users of the rivers to investigate practicable long-term solutions. Last week's flooding was the third episode in six years and a long-term solution is required," Mrs Shipley said.

The key tasks for the co-ordinator include:

1. Identifying the issues relating to flood management of the Kawarau and Clutha rivers.

2. Helping the communities affected to pull together the necessary information so that the principal causes of flooding can be understood and analysed.

3. Being a single point of contact and liaison between the communities, the district councils, the Otago Regional Council, and Contact Energy.

4. Facilitating processes to identify practicable options for mitigating the risks.

5. Examining the specific issue of siltation of the hydro lakes and the repeated flooding at Alexandra.

6. Providing informed context to allow communities to debate long-term solutions to reduce social and economic disruption from flooding of these rivers.

Mrs Shipley said Mr Adams' appointment had been welcomed by key stake-holders including Queenstown Lakes District Council, Central Otago District Council, Clutha District Council, and the Otago Regional Council.

ENDS

Inquiries: Raphael Hilbron 025 280 2490

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