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Talking floods on a sunny day

Francie Morrow from Greater Wellington Council talks to Oxford St resident Giuseppe Cugliari. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM

PAM GRAHAM
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On a glorious Sunday morning during a prolonged dry spell in Masterton, people were stopping to learn about flooding and were being urged to have a say in the town’s plans to combat it.

At a bankside barbecue on the Waipoua River on Sunday dog walkers, cyclists, students and residents were looking at the Te Kauru Upper Ruamahanga Floodplain Management Plan.

David Holmes, who is on the Greater Wellington Regional Council subcommittee overseeing the plan, was there and he said 39 people had taken an interest at a similar event on Saturday. There was also a stand at the market in Essex St on Sunday.

Bob Francis is the committee chairman and he has been at many of the public engagement events.

On Sunday, Oxford St resident Giuseppe Cugliari asked a project manager for floodplain management plans, Francie Morrow, the big question – “Who is going to pay for it?”

Morrow said 50 per cent of funding would come from the regional council and 50 per cent would be local but it was complicated and depended on the catchment. The current stage of project mostly involved more investigation work.

Morrow said the stop banks on the river near Sunday’s event did not breach in the last flood in 1998, which was a one-in-43-year event, but the banks were built in the 1930s and 1940s and were getting older.

The stop banks finish near the Mawley Holiday Park and in a flood the water flows around them into the park. The question was how far the banks should be extended, and that would be investigated in the next phase of work.

Willow trees growing in banks are also an interesting issue. They’re fine sitting there now but if the trees get washed away in a flood it creates a hole in the stop bank.

The question is whether to take the trees down or not. If the tree dies and the roots die it can affect a stop bank. They have to be treated on a case-by-case basis.

There is also effectively a hole in the system at Mahunga Farm where there is a rail underpass. In a big flood the farm floods but water also flows through the underpass towards Oxford St, which also gets flooded from the water coming around the stop bank.

There is $350,000 for investigation into where it would be best to have more stop banks in the plan, but work on extending them would not happen until stage two.

Holmes said there at been a lot of interest at the public engagement sessions and he encouraged people to put in submissions by April 14.

“There’s been so much communication [that] if people don’t know about it now then there’s something wrong,” he said.

To make a submission, see the regional council website.

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