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Speaker: Facing the floods

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  • Hebe,

    Good work James: you lay out the wider picture well. The drainage network is broken, to the point of the Estuary having been uplifted so the tidal rivers cannot drain properly. The Heathcote River bed has been uplifted, the channels narrowed by lateral spreading, the land movement on the Port Hills brings more silt off the slopes in each downpour, and the evil brown murk oozes inexorably through our gardens, garages and sometimes houses.

    The Cera magic bullet: it’s there, it’s not being used. Why not? It must be: this is a core infrastructure and health issue for the city. Every time there is a flood, sewage soaks homes, garages and work places.

    The state of the waterways has been known about since very soon after the quakes. My partner Greg was told in May 2011 by one of the scientists assessing damage to the Heathcote River what the problems were and the effect they would have. That was three years ago and a scientist was able to give a 15-minute short version on the street!

    Why did the council and Cera not address it as a matter of urgency?

    the fund that got almost $100m of donations from around the country in the wake of the the quakes. The biggest of the final payouts was to the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra

    Yesterday seeing that news item, I was struck by a deep and weary sadness. The disconnect is vast between those who are making decisions like distributing hundreds of millions of dollars donated by the public to help residents of Christchurch with the effects of the earthquake. Bet you thought your donation would help people who had to move out of their houses because of earthquake issues survive financially and physically?

    It hasn’t: yesterday $1.25 million went to a Symphony Orchestra, which though worthy and nice-to-have will not go a long way towards building river stopbanks, raising houses. putting in pumps and whatever other measures can be done.

    Three times in six weeks. Now for a walk with the dog: blue skies, stinking mud and upended rubbish bins. I’ll take some pictures.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Gabor Toth,

    Just to note a missing decimal point in an otherwise moving and poignant reply from Hebe; the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra was allocated $1.25 million from the recovery fund, not $125 million.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Gabor Toth,

    Thanks sorry! That’s what I meant.

    [Fixed it - RB]

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    Why did the council and Cera not address it as a matter of urgency?

    does the problem affect Gerry's neck of the woods.. ?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Okay, here’s what I think is going on.

    National has been using Curia to poll on perceptions of Brownlee in Christchurch, which will be awful.

    So they fly in Key to stand next to Brownlee and radiate chummy star power.

    But they also need to shift some of the public ire from Brownlee, so briefings go out to the usual suspects putting the heat on Dalziel.

    Dalziel, I am sure, would like some help and wants to collaborate on the crisis (why wouldn’t she?), but she’s not getting that for political reasons.

    The whole thing is, in my humble opinion, a very, very cynical political game, at the expense of the people of Christchurch.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Gregor Ronald, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Russell, you're spot on. Key's photo ops and Brownlee's bullying are not helping, and Lianne has been left to handle the mess while these goons play their power games.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    Noah way out...
    Insomuch as Ilam is west of 'Flockton Basin' and a heavily built up area, the run off and trickle down effects must pass through all suburbs betwixt there and the sea, at a inclination of about 1 per 100 (I think), then draining into tidally affected rivers and an estuary that has less capacity as the estuary-floor was thrust up approx half a metre and then heavily silted...

    here's some useful resources:
    CCC run-off and drainage guide
    and
    wastewater drainage guidelines

    and this report from the Ministry for the Environment:the challenges of future flooding in NZ from 2008

    and more here too

    Central Government should be playing a much stronger role (as the above reports say) but Key isn't interested - let the councils do the heavy lifting is his approach... when a nationwide response is called for - you know, some leadership!

    ----------
    PS: James shouldn't you have a disclaimer about your running for Labour in Ilam with this story - otherwise that will be the story!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Gregor Ronald, in reply to Sacha,

    The flooding isn't in Gerry's electorate. Most people on his side of town haven't visited the east side for a year or two, so they think it's all fine and dandy - they just want some nice fashion and interior decorating shops to appear in the CBD.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Fox,

    You've pretty much nailed it there Russell. Govt have initiated a Mexican standoff with the Council and the long suffering residents are the hostages. Dalziel has the toughest Job in NZ politics right now.

    Since Nov 2006 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But they also need to shift some of the public ire from Brownlee, so briefings go out to the usual suspects putting the heat on Dalziel.

    I've been picking out a lot of fallacies on Twitter lately. If what you say is true, then the usual suspects' latest moves look like a classic case of Rovian tu quoque.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5434 posts Report Reply

  • Ed Muzik, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Correct. I don't have any problem with a disclaimer. For those of you that don't follow me on twitter, I am the Labour candidate in Ilam, going up against Gerry (who was pretty quiet yesterday). I had a drive around Bishopdale and the Ilam electorate yesterday. It was pretty wet. Definitely some surface flooding and probably a few pinch spots, but not as bad as Flockton or Opawa.

    Also, I have seen a few people using this as an opportunity to bring up Climate Change. I totally on board with climate change, and don't have any doubts that it is real. But we need to make it clear that this is about earthquakes, not climate change. The quakes have damaged our rivers, creeks, and the wider drainage network. This is why this should be the domain of the Earthquake Recovery Minister primarily.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ed Muzik,

    Correct. I don’t have any problem with a disclaimer. For those of you that don’t follow me on twitter, I am the Labour candidate in Ilam, going up against Gerry (who was pretty quiet yesterday)

    I'll add that disclaimer. Should have thought of it in the first place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Gregor Ronald,

    Russell, you’re spot on. Key’s photo ops and Brownlee’s bullying are not helping, and Lianne has been left to handle the mess while these goons play their power games.

    Lianne seems to be a consensus builder, but what if Brownlee & Co back her into a corner and she goes outrightly Ken Livingstone on them?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5434 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Ed Muzik,

    . But we need to make it clear that this is about earthquakes, not climate change. The quakes have damaged our rivers, creeks, and the wider drainage network. This is why this should be the domain of the Earthquake Recovery Minister primarily.

    Yes. However, there's a conflation of quake-induced changes to land levels and climate change-induced sea level projections in the hazards section of the CCC's draft District Plan, which is out for comment now. Current modelling in the draft plan has the sea rise at half a metre.

    The council planners have been told to go back and produce one-metre sea level rise projections. A couple of weeks ago I learned that the council is expected to vote soon -- within the next month -- on which projection to include in the draft plan.

    It is expected the one-metre rise will be adopted in the draft plan, which is almost certain to be adopted by the end of the year.

    That puts the cat among the proverbial pigeons in relation to liabilities, insurance exposure, building regulations, and the major earthquake-related repairs and rebuilds. Fletchers/ EQR is scheduled to have completed its under $100K residential repair programme by then.

    They will be done under the old rules.

    The major repairs and rebuilds have yet to ramp up. They will theoretically come under new rules for raised floor levels to cope with the sea level rise. But who will pay the extra cost of complying with building rules relating to climate change?

    No-one is saying anything.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    A look at a few numbers from the Ecan rain gauge at Halswell Ryans Bridge which seems to be the closest point to Flockton.
    http://ecan.govt.nz/services/online-services/monitoring/rainfall/Pages/rainfall-chart.aspx?SiteNo=326512
    The peak events this year seem to be all under 45mm for 24h. A few last year went from 45mm to 65mm.
    The Council design standards give 'median annual max 24h rainfall depth' of 50-55mm for the city area.

    So nothing this year is out of the ordinary, no where near 100 y/1% AEP figures (which dont seem to be easy to find).

    The flooding is obvious to see and the land changes have been known for some time. Last year had some higher rainfall events yet only now has urgency seem to applied.

    Is this the notorious Christchurch inertia- yet again- leading nowhere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • tim oliver,

    The flooding isn't just because of rain falling on flockton basin. Edgeware rd floods each time because water is spraying in miniature geysers out of the storm drains in the middle of the street - there has to be water flowing to this part of town and pooling here.

    Since May 2011 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    That rain gauge is miles from Flockton; it's on the other side of town. Completely different microclimate: rainfall, wind, topography and soil. We had at least 60mm of rain in 12 hours yesterday.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Ball,

    I have lived near the Heathcote River for over 40 years. What we are having is like 1975 time and time again. In those days we had the Christchurch Drainage Board to deal with such issues but since the gunshot amalgamation of the Local Bodies in 1989 the focus has been lost with the result (plus earthquakes) is what we are having now. It is clear that new subdivisions are dumping more and more run off into the Heathcote and this is a major part of the problem but is the result again of political interference with unintended consequences. EQC clearly have a role to play but will they be allowed to?

    Cashmere, Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Ball,

    PS: my rain gauge this morning registered 105mm for the previous 24 hours.

    Cashmere, Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Michael Ball,

    Wow 105mm. You are on the flat?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Practical suggestion from a Standard commenter:

    What I don’t get about the solutions proposed is why they’re not even bothering with creating an artificial wetland to act as a holding basin and slowly release the water into Dudley Creek.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Sacha,

    That might work for Flockton basin, but Flockton is only a small part of the problem. The flooding there is intolerable and affects a concentrated area, but the wider problem affects many more -- possibly thousands -- of properties. No-one knows how many because no-one has asked owners since mid 2011.

    The ground has done a lot of settling and sinking since then. Over the last six weeks my garage has developed a neat channel effect that sends the water straight down a slope into the garage via the door. That slope didn't exist even six months ago.

    I remember seeing a geologist quoted in a Stuff piece in October 2010 that said settling of the land could be expected to continue for at least five years. At that time there was no conception that we would have near 15,000 quakes in 3 1/2 years. I believe a lot of decisions relating to our land were made very early on, with no knowledge that of the land changes that could happen.

    Apparently the huge rainfall so far this year has exacerbated the settling process all over town.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Sacha,

    I suspect because there's already a natural wetland, and that's what is flooding every time. The question is, as with all these things, who will pay to move the human stuff out of the wetland.

    So much of the long-term trauma seems to come down to money. The PTB have spent a lot of time trying to look as though they are in control and everything is going to quickly return to normal. Oh, and that cheap repairs will solve the problem. I still wonder how many red and orange zone homeowners would have accepted "pick one of these standard designs, built in Rolleston, in the next year" even if it meant losing a lot of the former value of their home. Especially after the second big quake. Standard designs and mass construction is how we got a lot of Auckland and Wellington suburbs, for example.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    I believe a lot of decisions relating to our land were made very early on, with no knowledge that of the land changes that could happen.

    I wish I could agree the decision-makers did not know..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    (to be clear I mean the big decision-makers like govt and the insurance industry, not individual home-owners)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

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