Residents get sinking feeling

Residents say that run off from the reserve heads across their property and straight into the creek, which is silting up.

A pathway through a reserve in Gulf Harbour is slumping to the point where locals say that the ground is now unsafe to walk on.

They say it is in this state because Auckland Council failed to act on their concerns.

Two large sinkholes (or tomos) have opened up and the ground beneath eroded away.

Jenny Muir walks along this path, which runs through the reserve at the end of Hobbs Road, twice a day and first advised council that the path was sinking after heavy rain in August.

Water scoured out a channel alongside the path and a hole formed around a tree that was so deep that she couldn’t see the bottom of it – she could hear water running below ground. This hole is now a lot bigger.

Council fenced off the tomo, and another one nearby. In September, contractors filled in part of the path where it had sunk, with gravel.

The land is above the Anchorage subdivision, where new residents Michele de Vries and Phil Warr built their home. Phil says that a contractor who visited the site told him that the stormwater drain on the reserve had collapsed, which is why muddy water is now running down the bank onto their property.

“There’s a lot of sediment in that stream, as well as the mess it’s caused,” Phil says.

He says lack of action has caused the problem to worsen, and is angry that the sediment going into the stream goes against the council’s own bylaws.

“If we had any sediment going off our house site, we would get slammed. It’s hypocritical,” he says.

Michele says the path is used a lot more in summer. She and Phil have threatened legal action and say a lot of other residents contacted Council but that a permanent fix has still not been achieved.

“It’s going to open up more and potentially break through the wall and flood. It might take an accident to get some action,” Michele says. “They are patching it up but not dealing with the cause.”

Stormwater operations engineer Coen Ursem says the team visited the site to investigate and there is no evidence that the main pipes are damaged.

“These pipes are very deep and new. The tomos are shallow and the likely cause is water from the open drain beside the walkway, which is scouring the ground under the path,” he says.

In response to enquiries from Hibiscus Matters, Council’s community facilities operations manager, Julie Pickering says that a contractor has been scheduled to fix the cause of the slip and that they hope to reinstate the path “in the next 10 working days” (by November 8, but weather dependent).

Coen says that this will mean sealing the open drain with concrete where water is draining into the ground, so that all the water will go to the catchpit.