$1.5 million bill to fix rain-damaged South Canterbury roads
South Canterbury's three district councils face an estimated $1.5 million tab to clean up and fix damage to roads after July's deluge, which sent the Timaru District into a state of emergency.
The district saw 84 millimetres of heavy rain fall in a 24-hour period on July 21 and 22, with residents evacuated from several low-lying areas as river levels rose.
Waimate got 96mm of rain, while 61mm fell in Fairlie in the same period, though neither the Waimate nor Mackenzie Districts had a state of emergency declared.
Timaru District Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon said the cost to the council of roading repairs related to the flood would be some $700,000.
That was "quite a significant amount but it was quite a significant event".
"It was a one in 20-year event that did send us into a civil defence emergency. It was significant."
This cost of the clean-up included road inspections, road signage, culvert clearing, clearing fallen trees, and debris on roads, and repairing damage to roads, fords, culverts and bridges.
Dixon said the main damage was around Geraldine and the Levels Plain area, with the worst-affected roads in the Te Moana and Rangitata Gorge areas, due to heavy flows of floodwater through bridges and fords.
Still water on flat surfaces had not caused such significant damage, Dixon said.
Whether the council would cover the cost of the flooding through ratepayer funds or unbudgeted expenditure was yet to be determined.
In the Mackenzie District the cost of damage was expected to be between $250,000 and $300,000, mayor Graham Smith said.
He said roading was a big chunk of the district's rates spend and the recent rain had caused damage in the Fairlie, Albury and Sherwood Downs areas.
"I don't expect it to cost less than $300,000," he said.
He acknowledged that the district "did get off fairly lightly" compared with others.
Waimate District Council chief executive Stuart Duncan said the bill for damage for his district was $500,000.
"We did not have to declare [a state of emergency]... so we consider ourselves pretty lucky," he said.
The damage was mainly within the Hakataramea Valley and on State Highway 82 between Kurow and Waimate, where there were heavy volumes of water moving at high speed on the roads, causing them to erode.
He said Waimate as a township did not have any damage.
Waimate District Council asset group manager Dan Mitchell said where the funding would come from was yet to be decided but "it has to come from somewhere in the pot".
All councils had applied to the NZ Transport Agency for funding from the National Land Transport Fund for emergency works, to help relieve the cost of the repairs.
A NZ Transport Agency spokeswoman said the amount of money granted to each council through the emergency works funding would depend on each council's Funding Assistance Rate (FAR) system.
The average New Zealand-wide rate was around 51 per cent but this would vary from council to council, she said.
"If a council has a $1 million yearly road maintenance budget, they are eligible for 51 per cent of the first $100,000 spent as a result of a flooding event like this. After the first $100,000, the FAR rate increases by 20 [percentage points] to 71 per cent for additional costs," she said.