Work to start on flood scheme

Work on Washdyke's major flood protection scheme is set to start within days.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) river engineer Shaun McCracken confirmed the contract for the project's first stage had gone to Rooney Earthmoving.

"Rooney have been able to commit to a very competitive price due mainly to their Washdyke-based depot location," he said.

"It's a big job, and will help protect Washdyke from major future flood events."

The work would increase the creek's capacity from 170 cubic metres per second to 280 cumecs.

Mr McCracken said the first stage would involve constructing a new 2.5 kilometre stopbank.

"Parts of the existing stopbank will be relocated while others will be increased in both height and width," he said.

It is expected the first stage of the project will be completed in May.

ECan received six tenders for stage one, with prices ranging from $420,000 (Rooney's tender) to $885,000. A separate tender process for stage two will take place later this year.

Mr McCracken said the second stage of work would take place next summer. It would include modifying the stopbanks and flood wall between the State Highway 1 road bridge and the rail bridge.

When the project was initially approved in 2011, ECan estimated the total cost for the two stages to be about $720,000.

However, it put the proposal out to public vote in October last year after later estimates suggested it could actually cost more than $1 million.

It sent voting papers to the 93 affected ratepayers - of the 48 returned, 32 were in favour.

Mr McCracken said the work would be funded by a mix of Timaru District Council contributions, ECan general rates and a targeted rate from Washdyke residents.

The existing scheme, completed in 1970, extends from the racecourse channel, along Papaka Stream to Washdyke Creek and out to the lagoon.

However, Mr McCracken said those areas still posed a significant flood risk to the Washdyke community.

The worst recorded instance occurred in 1986, when the creek reached a peak flow of 230 cumecs and caused millions of dollars of damage to businesses in Washdyke.

In August 2012, the area suffered several consecutive floods of up to 120 cumecs.

The Timaru Herald