Residents want action on stormwater

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 12:58 24/03/2014

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Residents in southern Stoke are frustrated with having to fight rising waters during heavy rain to protect their homes because they are not connected to a stormwater system.

Manson Ave resident Hayden Brown said he had been trying for eight years to get the Nelson City Council to give them better stormwater system access, but to no avail.

While water only reached Mr Brown's driveway during last weekend's rainfall, he said it could have been much worse. After only three to four hours of rain, water "got pretty close to the door", so he called the council, which sent Nelmac workers with sandbags.

Mr Brown said the council had told him that connecting his property to a stormwater system was not a high priority, despite the area being flood-prone.

"We want it done," he said.

"Ideally, I would like stormwater drains throughout the whole length of the street."

He said the streets were also built up in the middle, which pushed runoff towards residents' homes, and questioned whether alleviating this could help his side of the street.

Diane Chandler, who is further down Main Rd Stoke from Manson Ave, said she had been trying to get connected to the stormwater system since she moved into her property 15 years ago.

When she got home last Saturday, her family "hoofed it" outside to dig a trench through her garden, pulling out flowers, so the water could run off into their backyard and avoid the front door. The water "came gushing" through and eventually drained away through the backyard the next day.

"The water was about 20 centimetres deep in places in our backyard," she said.

Mrs Chandler said she was "pretty annoyed" about the lack of infrastructure, considering the family paid rates and it had been an ongoing problem.

"We have advised the NCC after every heavy rain and got nowhere. Now they are spending a quarter of a million [dollars] to improve drainage at Saxton Oval cricket [ground], and we don't even have drainage in a residential area."

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said she was aware that there were problems with the stormwater system in parts of Stoke. "We are getting on to it and getting it done as quickly as possible."

Council communications manager Angela Ricker said parts of Stoke had mainly a "low-impact" stormwater system, where the drains took the water to soak pits or trenches.

"This was done as a temporary measure when the area was first subdivided. On the whole, this system has served much of the area well under most rainfall conditions, but there are certainly places where issues with stormwater have been evident."

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The council will look at installing a stormwater system along the Railway Reserve between Saxton Rd West and Dryden St, which will handle the stormwater from properties in the area and runoff from Main Rd. However, residents will have to wait.

"There is a backlog of work in the stormwater area, and staff are starting to move forward on this now. But the reality is that we can't clear the backlog in one year," Ms Reese said.

Design should begin in July next year, and construction should start in 2016-17.

Ms Reese said that in the meantime, the council's utilities team would clear out the drain into the Railway Reserve and make some "simple provisions" to improve drainage. This could include digging up the outlet to the Railway Reserve and installing a manhole with an overflow.

"I have asked the staff to progress this as an interim measure until the stormwater upgrade project is complete.

"The work can be done within budget as operations and maintenance expenditure, and I expect it to be completed well in advance of winter - within the next four to six weeks."

Mr Brown was also frustrated with the council for not providing sandbags. He and his family spent last Saturday morning filling sandbags in preparation for last Sunday's wet weather.

"I think we should be able to call in and get that sort of thing as ratepayers anywhere, especially when it has been proved to happen a few times before with not a lot of rain."

Ms Ricker said people needed to be self-sufficient in a storm.

"Council typically doesn't get involved in providing sandbags until we are in the midst of an event and there is an urgent emerging need.

"In advance, we try to tell residents to stock up. People who are vulnerable should be planning for this to protect their property. Sandbags are relatively cheap; they are about 70 cents each and are readily available."

- Nelson

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