A combination of $161,000 extra government funding and desire to better accommodate affected landowners has prompted changes to planned flood protection work for Kaeo.
Historic flooding, Kaeo, circa 1910.
The Northland Regional Council had planned a two stage, ratepayer-funded project to help reduce flooding in Kaeo over the next two years.
Stage One – worth about $600,000 - was to begin with construction of a new roughly 200-metre long, four-metre high stopbank either side of State Highway 10 to deflect floodwaters away from the township.
The regional council says work on Stage One had been scheduled to start in the summer of 2012/2013. Stage Two would have eventually seen a second, much longer stopbank and floodwall – together about 900m long - built between Whangaroa College and the Pohue Pa site, but a start date and funding for this stage had not been decided.
However, regional councillor Joe Carr says due to a combination of an extra $161,000 funding from the Ministry of Education and further consultation with the Kaeo River – Whangaroa Catchment Liaison Committee and affected landowners, the council had now agreed to start work on the much more substantial Stage Two first.
“As well as helping deflect floodwaters away from the town centre, Stage Two also gives extra protection to the college.”
Councillor Carr says the council had initially ruled out an early Stage Two due to funding issues, including keeping a targeted rate levied on local owners to a manageable level.
However, the extra government funding would enable Stage Two to go ahead at no added cost to ratepayers and bring some certainty to landowners, including one whose farm property will effectively be cut in two by the new stopbank.
He says the council will apply for the necessary resources consents shortly and all going well, work would now begin in the summer of 2012/2013.
Council Land and Rivers Senior Programme Manager Bruce Howse says a revised timetable and funding arrangements for what had been Stage One would likely be addressed through a future Annual Plan process, probably during the 2013/2014 financial year.
He says deferring construction of the smaller stopbank either side of State Highway 10 will not cause any additional problems in the area, given the more extensive Stage Two works will go ahead.
Mr Howse says both stages are designed to be independently effective but says irrespective of this, neither offers a “magic bullet” to Kaeo’s flooding problem with both designed to reduce, rather than totally prevent, flooding.
“Neither stopbank will protect Kaeo against flows from the Waikara Creek, but both will give added protection against overflow from the Kaeo River, which currently overtops SH10 and flows west along the SH10 through the township, rejoining the river at the lower end of town.”
Councillor Carr says previously, floodwaters more than a metre of water deep had swept at relatively high speeds through the town centre.
“While they can’t prevent flooding altogether, the planned works should cut the speed of floodwaters quite significantly and also reduce the depth of them.”
Mr Howse says they will also greatly improve the effectiveness of sandbags and flood shutters that residents use.
Regional councillors voted this year as part of their Annual Plan process to establish a Kaeo-Whangaroa River Management Rate that will see $150,405 (incl GST) raised annually for Kaeo flood work.
Mr Howse says the new rate of $74.53 (incl GST) for all ratepayers in the former Whangaroa Ward will not change despite the decision to start with what was Stage Two.