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Upgrades help count the rainfall

Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] is upgrading its rain gauges in the Tararua Range in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The agenda for Thursday’s Environment Committee meeting said the council’s hydrology team had been adding resilience to the Greater Wellington Flood Warning Network by completing major site upgrades to the early-warning Tararua Range rain gauges.

“The dual communication [radio and cellular] as well as dual measurement sensors are improving the reliability of the network and will allow crucial early flood warning alarms to get through to duty officers.”

The agenda also said that the council was also considering the suitability of satellite communication in the event of radio and cell network outages.

Farming Reference Group chair Barbie Barton told the committee that residents of the eastern hills have a “definite need” for improved early-warning systems.

The flooding during Cyclone Gabrielle had “drowned” monitoring stations in Hawke’s Bay’s Esk Valley, Barton said.

“There is a lot of work to be done in terms of how we deliver this from a technical perspective so it’s not a repeat of what has gone before – coming up with something that’s new and innovative.”

Barton noted that two members of the reference group – who live about 15km away from one another – had seen a difference of 200ml of rain during the cyclone.

Because of the stark difference over such a small distance, Barton said monitoring stations needed to be closer together.

According to the agenda, Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle caused a significant impact on many properties through flooding and erosion, with damage concentrated from Whareama to Flat Point.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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