The Government has approved over $1 million in funding for Waikato Regional Council to improve community resilience to flood risk in the Coromandel Peninsula.
Waikato Regional council applied for government funding made available earlier this year to regions affected by the North Island’s extreme weather events: $3.3 million towards its river management programme across the peninsula and $330,800 to remediate damage to its Graham’s Creek catchment flood scheme in Tairua.
The council was awarded $708,000 towards river management, which includes erosion protection works, the removal of obstructions and planting to stabilise banks, as well as the full amount requested towards upgrading and repairing the spillway and weir in the Graham’s Creek catchment.
Councillor Warren Maher said the numerous wet weather events in the Coromandel Peninsula since late 2022, particularly the Auckland Anniversary event and cyclones Hale and Gabrielle earlier this year, had left communities and catchments vulnerable.
“Building stability and capacity into these river systems is a critical action needed to support improvements in roading, infrastructure, sediment reduction and flood mitigation in the mid to lower reaches of catchments,” said Cr Maher.
“However, the council is not in a position to fund the large-scale amount of work required across the peninsula in a short term. The cost is also something that our local ratepayers would struggle with considering the flood recovery impacts they’re already experiencing, so this funding is a welcome boost to recovery activities. The havoc caused across the Coromandel is still very real, and in the meantime our river systems remain vulnerable due to saturation and continuous rain.”
The constant state of soil saturation and significant stream flows also resulted in damage to the spillway embankment and weir structure at Graham’s Creek and caused infilling of the main channel.
The scheme, which was completed in 2016 and diverts flooding away from residential areas into a designated floodway across a floodplain and into the estuary, will be relocated further downstream to reduce their vulnerability to similar damage and washout.
Again, funding was sought for the remediation works because the cost was not financially achievable for the community.
“We’ll be reviewing the design and construction of the scheme’s structures to make sure they are more robust and stable under severe flood conditions, as well as being easy and cost effective to maintain,” said Hauraki and Coromandel Catchments Manager Emily O’Donnell.
“It is important to note that, as it stands, the flood scheme is fully effective and the agreed level of protection to this community has not been compromised despite the damage.”
The scheme was designed to provide 50-100-year levels of protection to more than 800 residential properties, but mostly operates to reduce the impact of more common short duration, high intensity rain events that can cause flash flooding and debris flow with little or no warning.