Hopes dashed for quick repair

By Lawrence Gullery

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The $1.2 million repairs to Makara Dam - crucial for Elsthorpe's flood protection - is unlikely to be completed by this winter as hoped by the rural Central Hawke's Bay community.

The dam and flood protection scheme is the responsibility of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council which met to hear an update from staff on when the work might begin.

Group asset manager Mike Adye's report supported a full consultation programme to gather comments from ratepayers around the dam, to see what people wanted.

It would conclude with a public hearing to be held at Elsthorpe Hall on April 12 and the decision to be reported to the council on April 24.

The proposal, which will be sent out to Upper Makara ratepayers on March 1, included the preferred option of reinstating the dam which would cost about $1.2 million.

The dam was one of five constructed in the 1980s to temporarily hold excess flood water in a pond area. In normal weather, the dam was empty, with in-flowing water exiting through a pipe in the face of the dam. During storms, the capacity of the pipe could now be exceeded and water builds up behind the dam.

Regional councillor and Central Hawke's Bay farmer Tim Gilberton said he was disappointed the council agreed to go out to public consultation. He said he believed the community had already made it clear, through letters and presentations to the council, that it wanted to reinstate the dam.

And the community wanted the work done before this winter which will bring the potential of heavy rainfall and flooding.

"There is no need for this consultation process, the community wanted the dam built. I understood from our meeting on this in December that we told the (Elsthorpe) community that a hearing could be held in February, quickly.

"Now it can't be and the chances of rebuilding the dam before winter are made impossible."

Council's group asset manager Mike Adye said there was a significant rating increase required to repair the dam and it was important all ratepayers had a chance to see the options.

"We are unable to walk away from this flood scheme. If there is an outcome which says we don't want to spend the money to repair the dam, that decision has to come from the community."

Central Hawke's Bay mayor Peter Butler wrote to the regional council asking for the dam to be repaired.

"If the water retention provided by the dam was to be removed, then the potential for flood damage for farms, houses and roading network are significantly increased.

"We believe that future liability for losses to farming, houses and the roading network could fall directly at the feet of Hawke's Bay Regional Council."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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