The last gaps in Palmerston North's flood defences are being plugged this summer, with Horizons Regional Council contractors going on to 22 private properties in Buick Cres to raise the stopbanks.
Most of the properties back on to Paneiri or Waitoetoe Park, toward the downstream end of the $13 million City Reach project that includes raising eight kilometres of the Manawatu River's right bank.
The raised stopbanks are designed to protect the city from a one-in-500-year flood - one with a 0.2 per cent chance of occurring in any year.
It would be the largest flood since records began in 1880.
City Reach project engineer Derek McKee said the stopbanks running through the private gardens needed to be raised about 70cm to bring them up to design standards.
Traditional earth stopbanks were impractical in most cases, and the landowners were being consulted about the solution they preferred.
Heather and Keith Lapwood, who have lived at their Buick Cres address for 45 years, were the first to make the choice of a planter box-style barrier that looks like an orthodox garden feature.
It's a double timber, earth-filled wall running just inside their boundary line, with access reinstated to a seldom used gate in the back fence to the steep, tree-lined bank that falls toward the park.
With a narrow driveway as the main access to the property, there has been little scope to get major earthmoving machinery into the garden.
A small, ride-on dumpster has been used to make about 50 trips into the yard to carry the 25 cubic metres of earth needed to fill the length of the wall.
Other options include single timber or concrete walls.
Mrs Lapwood said living so close to the river, the couple were pleased to allow their property to be used to improve the city's flood protection.
She recalled the 2004 flood, when the river roared past the back of their yard, about one metre below the edge.
"We are very happy to have this protection, not just for us, but for everybody."
- Manawatu Standard
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