Water strategy consultation ahead

Auckland Council’s strategy for flood resilience and management is coming out for public consultation next month.

At the Governing Body meeting on May 23, Healthy Waters was given the green light to draft the Making Space for Water strategy consultation material.

The strategy has nine initiatives including things like stream rehabilitation, community led flood resilience, culvert upgrades and overland flow path management. 

Healthy Waters head of planning, Nick Vigar, said the strategy needs to have a strong community focus. 

“There have been calls from the community generally for better preparedness for these events and so what we are proposing is a criticality-based approach where we go into at-risk flood catchments and have an increased maintenance regime,” Vigar said

He said some of the work would involve private property owners where council would need to balance “lowering risk for communities and intervening where needed”. 

Mayor Wayne Brown said part of the strategy would be “preventing dumb stuff from happening”.

“Lots of people did not realise that the solid fences they put in were actually threatening their own houses,” Mayor Brown said. “The number of solid fences directly across or altering the overland flow paths was quite horrendous.”

He said the indicative cost of the strategy is likely to be in excess of $1 billion over six years which council was unable to bear alone. 

Cr Chris Darby said a lot of the strategy appeared to be basic works that council should already be doing. 

“Stream rehab focusing on high-risk streams, daylighting (turning piped streams back into waterways), and community engagement – they are all pretty basic,” Cr Darby said. 

He said catchment management planning had been stopped under Healthy Waters Lifecycle Planning manager Craig Mcilroy. Mcilroy’s management and wanted to know why. 

Mcilroy responded that the risk appetite for flooding had changed after recent events. 

“We live in a real world where we have all been subject to financial constraints. I have advocated as eloquently as I can – arguing for larger budgets to do work,” Mcilroy said. 

“We probably underestimated the risk [of flooding]– which is why we are going through what I call a reprioritisation programme.” 

The strategy is expected to give more detailed information on flood risks by specific areas which Mcilroy said would be available in the consultation material. 

The consultation material will come back to the Governing Body for approval in June with consultation expected to run for a month from mid-July.