Council to consult on flood resilience strategy

The strategy will look at ways to prevent a repeat of this type of flooding in Puhoi.

Mahurangi residents will have the opportunity to comment on Auckland Council’s strategy for flood resilience and management next month.

The Making Space for Water strategy has nine initiatives covering issues such as stream rehabilitation, community led flood resilience, culvert upgrades and overland flow path management.

At a Governing Body meeting on May 23, Healthy Waters head of planning Nick Vigar said the strategy needed to have a strong community focus.

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

He said some of the work would involve private property owners and 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 didn’t realise that the solid fences they put in were actually threatening their own houses. The number of solid fences directly across or altering the overland flow paths was quite horrendous,” Brown said.

He said the indicative cost of implementing the strategy was 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 work that council should already be doing.

“Stream rehabilitation focusing on high risk streams, daylighting, community engagement, they are all pretty basic,” Darby said.

Darby asked Healthy Waters general manager Craig McIlroy why catchment management planning had been stopped under his management.

McIlroy said 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 the 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 in specific areas, which McIlroy said would be available in the consultation material.

The consultation material will go back to the Governing Body for approval this month, with consultation expected to run for a month from mid-July.