Residents dispute dam's upkeep

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 05:00 05/06/2013

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A small rural community claims poor maintenance of a dam built to protect their homes from flooding makes it more susceptible to being damaged.

Makara Valley and Elsthorpe residents believe they're having to pick up too much of the $1.2 million bill to repair the damaged dam, saying the Hawke's Bay Regional Council did not do enough to protect it from storm damage.

More than 80 properties were put at risk of flooding when a sinkhole was found in the face of the largest of five dams that protect Makara Valley and Elsthorpe communities in Central Hawke's Bay last May.

The damage came about because the corrugated steel pipeline at the base of the dam had rusted in places.

Asset management group manager Mike Adye said remedial work was completed as soon as the council learnt the structural integrity had been compromised. But to reinstate the dam fully it needed to be taken apart to a replace a culvert, then rebuilt.

The council will decide this week whether to follow staff recommendations to reinstate the dam, along with a $25,0000 annual desilting programme. If approved, it will push a $34,800 targeted rate up to $95,800 for nearby homeowners whose properties are protected by the dam.

Mr Adye said most of the repair work would be covered by the council's disaster and depreciation reserves, but a targeted rate was needed to repay a loan of $220,000.

In a recent hearing, Makara Ratepayers group member Andrew Thomas said the scheme had not been well managed and the current proposal would see his rates increase by $18,000.

The group wanted the repair work to be paid for by all ratepayers because the council failed to do remedial work to prevent the damage.

However, council staff found the dam had been adequately maintained and recommended that the method for imposing rates be reviewed in the next annual plan.

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