Dunedin council admits flooding fault

The Dunedin City Council has admitted that a blocked pumping station meant that the flooding in South Dunedin last year was about 20 cm deeper than it would otherwise have been if the pumping station was fully effective.

This was revealed at a public meeting where anger at the council was expressed.

RNZ: Dunedin council concedes flood worsened by faulty pumping station

South Dunedin residents have been waiting for a year for its council to front up for the flooding – and last night it did so en masse. At least eight city councillors, the chief executive and her two deputies were quizzed by 200 locals about what happened last June, and what will stop it happening again.

Chief executive Sue Bidrose told the crowd of 200 people the council had reports showing the flood was caused by more rain falling than the stormwater system was designed to cope with.

But Dr Bidrose made a major concession, saying the council now accepted a key pumping station was blocked, adding an extra 20cm of water to the area.

20 cm makes a big difference as to the severity of flooding or whether houses got flooded at all.

Surrey Street, South Dunedin.

Surrey Street, South Dunedin. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

She said the council was fixing the pumping station, had all the drains and mud tanks in South Dunedin fully cleared and had new procedures when heavy rain was forecast.

Checking that flood protection was in good working order prior to forecast heavy rain seems a fairly basic thing. That new procedures are required to remedy fundamental flaws does not give one confidence in their council.

I think Sue Bidrose is generally doing a good job trying to sort out problems in the council. There seems to be less public confidence in the mayor.

But it will take more than her words to sort out the ill feeling with residents, who said they felt neglected and betrayed by the council, and especially by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.

Shortly after the flooding, Mr Cull linked the event to climate change and warned South Dunedin may have to beat a managed retreat.

Local woman Kathinka Nordal Stene said she was shocked Mr Cull undermined the community at the time when it most needed his support.

Kathinka was a neighbour of mine in Central Otago when I was very young and she was quite a bit older. I don’t remember much of her, but good to see her in action on this. Her mother was prominent in  protest against the flooding of Lowburn through the Clyde dam last century.

The ODT also reported on the meeting: Anger about South Dunedin’s future

Unanswered questions about the long-term future of South Dunedin and the city’s response to climate change loomed large at a heated public meeting last night.

Attendees heard about the short-term measures the council had taken or was about to take to ensure South Dunedin’s infrastructure would run at full capacity should there be a repeat of last June’s devastating flood.

But the meeting was at its most heated when the long-term future of the area was discussed. Council representatives said it was too soon to say how it might respond to the difficult issues posed by rising sea levels and groundwater caused by climate change.

Ironically…

…SDAG spokesman Ray MacLeod finished the meeting by praising some of the council’s short-term measures, but had harsh words when it came to what he perceived as a “green” agenda on the council.

This agenda had resulted in a council policy of “strategic withdrawal” from South Dunedin “by stealth”, Mr MacLeod said.

Perhaps a fairly Green leaning council that has been seen to have put a priority on cycleways through South Dunedin (that were poorly designed and had to be rebuilt so fire engines could use the streets) could shift focus to pedal powered boats, although mobility scooters are probably more relevant to South Dunedin than bike power.

Seriously, what is particularly concerning is that a Green council that has stated an importance on preparing for climate change was so poorly prepared for a bit of heavy rain.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose earlier said there was no such plan, but both she and Mayor Dave Cull, whose speech was read out by Acting Mayor Andrew Noone, said such an option could not be counted out, given the serious threat posed by climate change.

There has been more threat from basic council ineptitude.

But it is no wonder some of the many residents of South Dunedin are concerned about the council not counting out a plan for a “strategic withdrawal” from South Dunedin.

Much of the South Dunedin area was swamp in the 1800s before being drained.

Prior to European settlement, much of the area of The Flat was poorly drained and marshy.

Much of the swampy land of The Flat was drained through the efforts of Chinese settlers were notable among early residents in the St Clair area, and largely through their effort the swampy land inland from the beach was drained and converted into market gardens.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dunedin

There have been potential problems with drainage, low level land and high water tables long before ‘climate change’ and rising sea levels were raised as a potential future problem.

Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  22nd June 2016

    Worldwide politicians are finding climate change a great excuse for their own incompetence. It behoves each and every one of us to question them each time climate change is invoked to explain away poor planning.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the RNZ link Maggy, I had the ODT article waiting for time to do a post but the RNZ coverage adding something worthwhile.

      Reply
      • Maggy Wassilieff

         /  22nd June 2016

        I was hoping you or a fellow Dunedinite could reveal some of the bon mots of the affected residents.

        Reply
  2. Zedd

     /  22nd June 2016

    fingers crossed.. that living in an ‘intertidal area’ doesn’t become a lake in the the near future.. the pic above looks like my street in june 2015 😦

    Reply

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