Council bill for flooding fixes tips $18m

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 05/06/2014
Mike Gillooly
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ
IN PLACE FOR SUMMER: Council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly, says short-term solutions are expected to cost about $17.5m.

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Short-term solutions to Christchurch's flooding woes will cost about $18 million and will not be fully in place until summer, a council report shows.

Homeowners in flood-prone areas of the city are facing a tough winter as the Christchurch City Council works to install a temporary pumping station in St Albans, to repair the flap gates of the Avon and Heathcote Rivers, and to continue dredging and silt removal.

A report from the flooding taskforce to the council's earthquake recovery committee shows the council will dip into its earthquake infrastructure repair fund as well as finding extra money to pay for flood mitigation projects.

The report, by taskforce head and council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly, says short-term solutions are expected to cost about $17.5m.

It says the council should consider offering flooding cleanup or decontamination of properties facing large insurance excesses until long-term solutions are in place.

Flockton residents' group spokeswoman Jo Byrne supported council assistance to help clean up properties. She said some people were looking at $10,000 excesses for flood claims.

She said the temporary pumping station on Patrick St, St Albans, was "very positive" for some of the area's worst-hit streets.

The pumping station would cost about $4.35m and would be fully operational within four months.

Byrne said the council was "slogging away with drainage solutions" and communicating well with residents. "But temporary accommodation support is still the biggest problem."

Some people were still out of their homes as a result of the March floods, she said, and needed financial support and information.

Council staff and engineers are continuing to assess the flooding vulnerability of homes. A method called tanking – where a property is wrapped in waterproof material – is being considered.

The taskforce has asked the council to approve about $15,000 to test the method on a red-zoned house.

Repairs to water infrastructure damaged in the earthquakes were included in the cost-share agreement between the council and the Crown, the report said.

Out of the $29.4m allocated to storm and fresh water infrastructure repairs, $2.9m had been spent by the end of April and a further $1.3m was expected to be spent over the rest of the year.

Councillor Pauline Cotter said the council was forced to prioritise infrastructure work based on the funding available.

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"We didn't expect this level of expenditure on flooding ... so a multi-agency approach would be really good in my view."

Cotter said some people were living with sewage under their homes.

The report will be tabled at a committee meeting today.

- The Press

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