New calls to remove controversial weir after assessment

Save Te Arai chair Aaron McConchie is among those who insist the weir must go.

A weir on Te Arai stream is once again at the centre of controversy, following a recommendation to reduce its height as part of a comprehensive drainage assessment across three districts.

ACH Consulting Engineers carried out the survey in March last year on behalf of Auckland Council’s stormwater management department, Healthy Waters, to investigate the state of public drains in Tapora, Gloria and Te Arai. The company found that the former ford, which was built up to create a weir by developer Te Arai North Ltd (TANL) in 2013, was restricting the flow of the main culvert and causing flooding across farmland upstream, and it viewed the issue as being of “high importance”.

“We understand that Council is in an enforcement process with the landowner to have this ford lowered to original levels,” the assessment report said.

Similar concerns were raised at a public meeting organised by Healthy Waters in Wellsford in May, and its Auckland Waters portfolio manager, Andrew Chin, told a Rodney Local Board meeting later that month that “these issues are currently being addressed through Council’s compliance team”.

However, a Council spokeswoman said last month that although an abatement notice had been issued in March 2017, requirements had since been complied with, there were no current compliance issues with the existing weir and “therefore, the regulatory team are not involved in the issue at present”.

Local Board member Colin Smith, who has been advocating for the weir’s removal for several years, was unimpressed. He said it was up to Healthy Waters’ to pull out the weir as part of its responsibility to bring all the drainage assets up to the right standard.

“They’ve had weeks to get out there and get that out and they’ve done nothing,” he said. “The commitment was made by their team. It’s all there, in the ACH engineers’ report, it has to be removed.

“To bring the catchment right, that weir has to come out. And if you’re going to start looking after the catchment, surely the first thing you do is take the plug out of the bath.

“Healthy Waters has made a commitment to the community, so let’s see some action.”

TANL spokesman David Lewis said TANL was looking to remove the weir,  but couldn’t say when.

“The weir is compliant with Council plans and rules, but TANL is looking to remove it and is working with Council to achieve this.”

“If a bridge can go in, then the weir can be removed,” he said.

As well as raising drainage concerns, the weir has also been criticised by environmental and bird protection groups, who say its restrictions on fish passage could wipe out the critically endangered fairy tern.


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