Thieves target Piako-Waihou flood protection steel
2 November 2018
Brazen thieves have been stealing steel from Waikato Regional Council’s Lower Piako floodgates in the Hauraki Plains.
Integrated Catchment Management works supervisor Ian Sara said two walkway platforms had been removed from the floodgates in Kaihere Road, Ngātea, and an attempt had been made on a third.
“With the third one they must have run out of battery power, they’d tried to grind it off.”
Mr Sara said the platforms, which were about 7 metres long and 4.5 metres long, were heavy, up high, and would have required at least two people to lift them.
They were noticed missing on 31 October during a monthly check on the council’s flood protection assets.
“I’d say someone is using them for a walkway across a drain or for scrap metal.”
The walkway platforms were bolted to service beams so staff can safely access the floodgates for maintenance work.
The removal of the platforms did not compromise flood protection but was a health and safety issue for staff, said Mr Sara.
New replacement platforms would be welded on to prevent further thefts.
“We have in excess of 120 steel walkways on the Piako-Waihou scheme, and any adjacent to highways and roads will be welded down.”
The police have been informed of the thefts.
“If you’ve seen a nice walkway bridge somewhere over a drain, or any suspicious activity, it’d be good to let them know,” said Mr Sara.
The council is treating this as a serious incident not only because of the cost on ratepayers, but also because it threatens lives and the integrity of critical infrastructure that is there to prevent damage to properties during floods.