Landowner appeals flood plan

By Peter de Graaf

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Northland regional councillor Joe Carr, chairman Bill Shepherd and councillor Dover Samuels visit a stretch of Kerikeri River near the site of a planned spillway designed to protect homes from floods while inundating farmland. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Northland regional councillor Joe Carr, chairman Bill Shepherd and councillor Dover Samuels visit a stretch of Kerikeri River near the site of a planned spillway designed to protect homes from floods while inundating farmland. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The Northland Regional Council has resolved to go ahead with a $2.1 million scheme designed to protect properties along Kerikeri River from flooding - but first it has to win over the landowner whose farm will be inundated in heavy rain by a new spillway.

The scheme aims to reduce flooding at more than 100 properties along the river, in particular along Waitotara Drive, by diverting floodwater across a Waipapa farm on average twice a year.

Resource consent has been granted for the project but work can't begin until an Environment Court appeal by the farm owner is resolved. The two sides are in mediation. Their first meeting was in February; a follow-up is scheduled for April.

Landowner Steve Brownlie, of Hawke's Bay-based Brownlie Brothers Farms, said he was "deeply concerned" about the proposal to flood a significant part of his property and the effects that would have.

The matter was before the Environment Court but he was hoping to resolve the problems through discussions with the council.

Northland regional councillor Joe Carr was also hopeful of reaching an amicable conclusion. The benefit to properties along the Kerikeri River was so significant the council was prepared to use the Public Works Act as a last resort.

The project involves building a spillway and stopbanks to divert part of the river during floods. Floodwater will bypass a dog-leg in the river by flowing over a spillway about 300m downstream of the State Highway 10 bridge, across farmland and over a waterfall, finally rejoining the river 650m downstream of Rainbow Falls.

On average the farmland will be flooded twice a year for 12 hours at a time.

The council says the scheme will greatly reduce flood risk for 41 buildings and 108 properties, mostly along Waipapa Rd and Waitotara Drive. It will also reduce flood levels at Waipapa Landing.

However, it will increase flood levels - by 10cm - at some already flood-prone downstream properties, including Quail Ridge, properties on Amokura Drive, Tuatahi Place and Peacock Gardens, and the historic Kerikeri Basin.

Flood levels in a one-in-100 year event are expected to rise at the Stone Store by 7cm and Kemp House by 2cm as a result, but that is likely to be offset by recent work to improve river flow.

The scheme will be paid for by a targeted rate over the 4300 properties in the Kerikeri-Waipapa catchment of about $80 per property for 10 years.

Major floods hit the Kerikeri River in 2007 and 2011, but the worst of recent decades was in 1981.

The scheme will not protect the Waipapa commercial area. In its long-term plan, the regional council is considering a $13.8 million plan to build a detention dam further upstream for water storage and flood prevention in central Waipapa.

- Northern Advocate

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