Back off Brownlee and let Dalziel loose

23:39, Mar 10 2014

It was a defining moment at November's Cera Recovery Forum at the Aurora Centre.

As the Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, flailed around struggling to answer an audience question about elevated flood risk, Mayor Lianne Dalziel assertively stepped up to the plate.

"We have to address the flooding issues. It's really a council issue. If we cannot provide area-wide protection, we are going to have to consider retreat. I'm not going to stand by and see people forced to repair their houses when we know we are going to put them at flood risk."

Fast forward four months, and Dalziel's straight-shooting rhetoric has been spectacularly reality-checked.

So much time, money and soul-sapping energy has literally gone down the drain on hapless earthquake repairs to flood-prone homes, without also addressing the soggy elephant in the swamp.

Remarkably, Brownlee won't even concede that the quakes have left many homes at a higher flood-risk caused by land subsidence.


The latest Tonkin & Taylor report couldn't make it any clearer.

Given Dalziel's flood-risk antennae was ahead of the pack, attuned to the ticking threat, she should grasp the nettle and resolve this impasse, once and for all. Brownlee should back off and entrust her to step up, bang heads and drive the response.

Consider it a test of her mayoral mettle. Dalziel has already signalled that the council may well foot the bill for raising some residents' foundations.

She also conceded to Radio New Zealand that more red-zoning is a distinct possibility.

CCC engineers are rushing to find flood-protection solutions, with a report expected to be on Dalziel's desk by the end of next week.

But beyond de-silting Dudley Creek, surely the council must start dredging all of our city's waterways - including the bunged-up Estuary.

Residents have seen first-hand how our rivers and streams acted like lateral shock absorbers during the quakes. They've narrowed, silted up and are simply dysfunctional at handling high-water volumes.

Dredge baby, dredge.


Costing many millions of dollars and 18 months to complete, the Opus-designed, Downer-built Fitzgerald Ave bridge project was hailed as the first major post-quake infrastructure triumph. It was showered with an engineering award just a few months ago.

But it's proven to be an epic fail in heavy rainfall.

Partially closed by flooding last June and fully submerged as the Fitzgerald reef last week, why was it constructed at such a ridiculously low level?

On Friday, I contacted Scirt for a response. They referred me to the city council, which in turn sent me back to Scirt.

The public deserves an explanation.

The Press