Flood remedy will not shift problem - council

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 18/04/2014
Tony Doyle carries Andy Kimber
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

FLOCKTON BASIN: Warrington St in Mairehau is repeatedly flooded.

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The Christchurch City Council is assuring residents that plans to protect the flood-prone Flockton Basin will not just move the problem to their suburbs. 

Wendy Hawke has lived in the Dallington area for 56 years and is one of about 15 families left on Dallington Tce, located alongside the Avon River and directly opposite the residential red zone.

Last month's severe flooding in Christchurch showed authorities had red-zoned the ''worst areas''.

''But we don't want to become the next news item in two years time.''

Hawke was concerned the council's proposal to widen Dudley Creek to carry more water away from the flood-prone Flockton Basin area would simply move the problem to her area, located where Dudley Creek met the Avon River. 

''It's the ability of the river to cope with even more water when it's already under stress. To me it's like building a sandcastle on the beach, as soon as the tide comes in it's gone.''

The March 5 floods turned her property into an ''island'', and if there had been any more water it would have entered her home, she said.

Part of the problem was that Canterbury's earthquakes ''narrowed'' the Avon River, and there had been no silt removed from the river bed in her area, Hawke said.

''There were areas that I'd never seen flooding in my life.''

She wanted reassurance from the council that it had considered the Flockton Basin proposals carefully, and the potential effect on other suburbs downstream.

''It's a huge issue, I get that, but are people using common sense or is there just so much pressure to get a solution. I want to make sure they really and truly have considered the flow-on effects.''

Council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly said the council was ''not just shifting the water down''. 

Upgrading Dudley Creek would not put a noticeable amount of extra water into the Avon River, which had a ''lot of capacity''.

While the floor of the river had risen after the earthquakes, it had not been dredged because such work would only allow more seawater in. 

Tidal waters reached as far back as Fitzgerald Ave during high tide, and were ''dominant'' up to Pages Rd, he said.

Last month's flooding was an ''extreme event'', and the council was looking at flood prevention across the city.

''I think it's reassuring in a major storm like that that an area like [Dallington] didn't actually get water in houses.''

It was ''absolutely tragic'' to see water in homes, and the council had to prioritise which areas it tackled first, Gillooly said.

Following the Flockton Basin area, which had about 80 homes flooded last month, the council would be looking at the area around Jacksons and Bells creeks in Woolston, which flowed into the Heathcote River.

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- The Press

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