Brownlee unsure on quake-flooding link

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 18:00 06/03/2014
WANTING ANSWERS: Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Fairfax NZ
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

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The Government is still unsure whether the earthquakes worsened the flooding risk in certain Christchurch suburbs, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says. 

Brownlee faced questions from the media this afternoon about this week's flooding and when asked if he believed the flood risk in some areas - such as the Flockton Basin - had been enhanced by the earthquakes, Brownlee said he was unsure. 

''We've asked that question and we haven't yet got that definitive answer, that's why I'm being cautious,'' he said.

''If I was the engineer I would have to answer you, but I'm not... I've got to rely on the advice of a team of engineers who are working on this.''

Carrick St resident Jo Byrne , who has evacuated her home four times since the 2011 earthquake, said it was ''absolute crap'' that authorities were still unable to confirm the effect of the earthquakes on their land. 

''We weren't even in a flood management area before the earthquakes... it really annoys me when we're told flooding in this area is historical.''

Bryne said she was ''sick of the non-committal response'' from the Government, the council and EQC. 

A Tonkin & Taylor report commissioned by the council last year showed vast parts of the city had sunk because of earthquake-related elevation change.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said red-zoning more land was a last resort and discussions about this could not be had without the Government.

Brownlee would not give a definitive answer when asked if red-zoning flood-prone land was a possibility. 

''Really the lead on this is with the council... you're asking me to apply criteria for red zones to what may be, but we don't know yet, enhanced flood zones.''

The Press asked whether it was the council or the Government, which could make permanent decisions about the future of some Christchurch land and Brownlee said: ''What you're doing is what frankly the media has done right from the 22nd of February, demanding answers to problems that can't be given a few hours after an event has occurred.''

He said agencies needed to understand why such severe flooding occurred because ''because there is a drainage plan that should have worked but it didn't''.

''Once we understand that then we'll have a better idea of what to do.''

He said flooding in areas badly hit this week had not been ''all that unusual'' over the decades. 

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''What we've just unfortunately experienced in the last two years is some pretty big rainfalls.

''[This week] was extraordinary... last year in June was a one-in-10-year event [and Wednesday] was greater than a one-in-100 year event.''

He said since last year's flooding the council and EQC had started discussions with engineers about what the best way to overcome or to mitigate similar events.

 

- The Press

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