No quick fixes for flooding victims

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 21/04/2014
Lianne Dalziel
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ
CONSIDERING FLOODING OPTIONS: Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel has promised the council would have a timeline for the initial decision-making process by Thursday.

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Christchurch's political leaders cannot promise any quick fixes for residents fed up with the repeated flooding of their properties.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday the latest round of flooding was frustrating and solving the problem was a top priority.

Houses in the Flockton basin, Heathcote River area and Lyttelton were again submerged in knee-deep water after Friday's wild storm - the second time the areas have flooded in the past six weeks. 

Christchurch City Council has two possible engineering solutions for the worst-hit area of Flockton basin - either widening and deepening Dudley Creek or installing pump stations.

Both options would cost more than $50 million and take more than two years to implement.

Weary residents, some of whom have been flooded out of their homes up to five times since the earthquakes, said two years was too long to wait. Dalziel agreed.

However, she could only promise that by Thursday the council would have a timeline for the initial decision-making process.

''I want all the options on the table so we can consider them all. This isn't straightforward, it is highly complex and I have literally got officials within council working night and day to try and find all possible solutions.''

This could result in a range of different options for affected homeowners, such as lifting the floor levels of some homes and retreating in other areas.

Flooded residents had asked the council about potentially red-zoning their homes.

Dalziel said the council did not have the power to do so.

Under the Public Works Act, the council only has the power to compulsorily acquire the properties.

When the Government red-zoned homes after the quakes, there was no criteria to include increased vulnerability to flooding, she said.

However, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) was now measuring that factor.

''I am not lobbying the Government to red-zone these homes but now EQC is including increased vulnerability to flood risk as a measure of land damage and perhaps [the Government] would consider this also.

"Now would be the right time to ask them to do that,'' Dalziel said.

Brownlee told The Press yesterday that Christchurch's flooding problems were in the council's hands.

The Government was willing to help hasten regulatory processes and ''explore cost sharing'' in areas where flooding had been exacerbated by the quakes, in order to speed up the work.

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For identifying appropriate solutions and getting the work started, ''the ball is in the council's court'', he said.

''As yet we have seen no formal proposals from the council on how or when this work might take place, nor how much it would cost,'' Brownlee said.

''I do, however, see reaching a decision about flood mitigation proposals as a priority, and it's this that needs to be understood and settled ahead of any talk of retreat or red zoning.''

- The Press

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