Streets seeks flood solution

By Julia Proverbs

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When it rains in Commons Ave it pours - into people's homes.

Angry residents in the flood-prone Mount Maunganui street have had enough.

They claim Tauranga City Council has not done enough to keep floodwaters at bay and want the stormwater system upgraded and, in the meantime, the existing system maintained more regularly.

Tony Haslett, who made a submission to the council's Draft Annual Plan on behalf of more than 20 residents, said he had an "on-going email trail" with the council over sumps and drains in the area not being cleared adequately.

Although his property had only flooded once - during the April 20 downpour - some residents' homes had seen water through them up to five times.

One affected home owner had just spent thousands of dollars renovating and another had just sold their house but had not handed it over yet, he said.

"It's all the personal trauma behind the scenes."

The road sweeper that was supposed to clear debris from the gutters was largely ineffective, Mr Haslett said.

"It doesn't get to the gutters and sumps because people park there ... the sumps get blocked, water builds up on the road and flows into houses," he said.

"The council, in my mind, is not maintaining the sump holes and pipelines adequately during the year, so when it rains it banks up."

Stormwater flowed down Commons Ave from three directions - from the beach and along Maunganui Rd from Leinster Ave and Grace Ave, he explained.

He suggested contouring Commons Ave, which would effectively make it an open drain, and adding more stormwater pipes.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said stormwater infrastructure needed to be upgraded and a maintenance programme carried out on the stormwater sumps and drains.

"We've been flooded three times in eight years and each time it's when the street floods," he said. "We've taken some action to deal with the water on our own site ... but once the street floods there's nowhere to pump our water."

Around the corner, Peter Matthews, who manages Westhaven Motel on The Mall, said seven ground floor units flooded on April 20.

"Some of our guests were a bit wet when they woke up," he said.

His mother, Margaret, who had owned the motel since 1973, said it had never flooded before.

Mr Matthews blamed blocked drains.

"Whoever was cleaning them wasn't doing a good enough job," he said.

Council drainage services manager Graeme Dohnt said council contractors did target sump checks at known hotspots prior to and and after every heavy rain event.

Commons Ave was added to the list after the April 20 flooding.

"We are about to install two new 'hush pits' to replace the existing ones that block with bark and rubbish.

"We will also be removing one garden to make it easier for water to flow into the pit," Mr Dohnt said.

He encouraged people to make sure gutters were clear, particularly before a heavy rain warning, to preempt any problems.

"Road sweeping will only ever be a partial weapon against storm debris because the machines can't sweep the kerb behind parked cars," he said.

Mr Haslett would receive a response from council as part of the annual plan submission process, he added.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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