Gareth Morgan's property floods

By John Cousins

Gareth Morgan's house on Marine Parade.
Gareth Morgan's house on Marine Parade.

Newly-refurbished ground floor apartments in the $6 million Marine Parade complex owned by economist and businessman Gareth Morgan went under water at the height of one of the weekend's deluges, it has been revealed.

Mr Morgan's investment on the corner of Marine Parade and Pacific Ave was the victim of a stormwater pond across the road failing to cope with the downpour on Saturday evening.

Details of the woes experienced by the co-owner of Wellington's Phoenix soccer team were revealed at Tauranga City Council's meeting yesterday, during which council drainage services manager Graeme Dohnt gave a debriefing.

The lip of the pond was too high and instead of the water running into the dunes, it flowed back in the opposite direction towards the houses.

Councillor David Stewart, who lives nearby, told the Bay of Plenty Times after the meeting the resident next door to Mr Morgan fared worse.

"They had to be rescued by boat," he said.

A foolproof design was needed for the pond so that the levels stayed right, he said.
The four ground floor apartments of Mr Morgan's 10-year-old complex were below street level.

Mr Dohnt said after the meeting that when the pond was built at least two years ago the levels at the top were lower but the lip had built up with sand drift and plantings.

The meeting was told all it took to fix the problem on Saturday was a shovel to lower the level on the dune side of the pond.

Adding to the problem was surface flooding along Marine Parade and the impact of monkey tails blocking stormwater grates.

Mr Stewart said an outlet pipe was needed where the washout happened on the pond so the water kept flowing in the right direction.

"You don't go picking a fight with Gareth Morgan."

The pond was a joint project with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Coastwatch.

Mr Dohnt said Mr Morgan's insurer was talking to the council's insurer.

The council will be looking at installing more open drainage systems in vulnerable areas.

Money was well spent

Councillors learned nearly the same amount of rain fell at the Carlton St end of Ngatai Rd from midnight on April 20 to 9pm on Monday than fell in the storm of 2005 - the difference this time was the deluges were more spread out.

The rain arrived in bands so that different areas of the city received a lot more than others. For instance, Grant Place at Papamoa East received 306mm while McDonald St at the Mount got 179mm.

Chapel St received a one in 20 years storm while Grant Place was a one in 70-75 years storm.

Council drainage services manager Graeme Dohnt said the stormwater system built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was designed to cope with long periods of gentle rain - not the deluges that hit the city.

The $82 million spent to fix drainage issues in areas hardest hit by the 2005 storm were successful in keeping water out of houses.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said: "I shudder to think what would have happened if we had sat on our hands since 2005."


- Bay of Plenty Times

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