Landowners must clear flooded stream - council

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014
mike smith
BARRY HARCOURT/ Fairfax NZ

FLOOD THREAT: Dipton CDA chairman Mike Smith surveys the damage caused by the flooded stream that no one is claiming responsibility for that locals have been told they have to fix.

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Dipton residents are facing a flooded future, thanks to a blocked stream, unless they clear it themselves.

Spirit Burn Stream, a tributary of the nearby Oreti River, has become a contentious topic for some Dipton locals after heavy rainfall bloated the stream and caused flooding to properties.

Dipton Community Development Area committee chairman Mike Smith said the issue began at the beginning of August after a heavy rain caused a blockage downstream.

The waters built up, eventually breaching the floodbank and spilling out across nearby properties.

First in line of flooding was Janice and Barry Mcdonald. Flooding on their Dipton property reached their shed and almost their house.

Smith contacted Southland District Council and Environment Southland and asked who was supposed to maintain the creek. However, both authorities denied responsibility, he said.

Because no one would take responsibility, nothing could be done to fix the problem, which would require a resource consent to fix anyway, he said.

"These people will have repeat incidents every time it rains until someone puts it right."

That proved true for Dipton residents yesterday when heavy rain caused water to back up through their shed for the second time this month.

Environment Southland says the responsibility for clearance work on the stream lies with the landowners.

Operations and environmental information director Warren Tuckey said while the Spirit Burn Stream was a tributary of the Oreti River, which was part of the Oreti Rating District, it was not specifically rated for maintenance.

People near the Spirit Burn Stream are rated F2, which is an indirect benefit class, meaning river side landowners don't pay the full cost of the work done in the Oreti river channel as it is offset by the F class contribution.

The crux was that any clearance work needed was the responsibility of adjoining landowners, he said.

If Spirit Burn Stream property owners wanted to have the stream incorporated into the rating district, they could request the council to do that, but they would still need to cover the cost of the initial clearing work, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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