Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Open drain 'accident waiting to happen' (+video)

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A Western Heights resident says an open drain behind he and his partner's home is an accident waiting to happen, and he is appealing to the council to do something about it.

Harry Grace said he had contacted the Rotorua Lakes Council about the 100m of open drain behind the property, that also runs behind about a dozen other properties on Park Rd, but had no luck.

The council's water solutions director, Andy Bell, said he was aware of the problem and would be in contact with Mr Grace to see if there was anything the council could do.

"There's lots of Housing Corporation houses down here and lots of kids running about," Mr Grace said.

"When there's heavy rain this drain fills up and flows really fast. Sometimes it also overflows. If a child or someone elderly falls in, that would be it.

"This really is a safety issue and I think it's the council's responsibility to fix it. The last time I called them they told me to sort it out myself, but there's no way we can afford to do that.

Harry Grace says it's only a matter of time until someone drowns in an open drain behind he and his partner's home in Western Heights. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Harry Grace says it's only a matter of time until someone drowns in an open drain behind he and his partner's home in Western Heights. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

"If someone dies, who will take responsibility? They can't just pass the buck, this is a low-income area, no one can afford to do the work themselves."

Mr Grace said if the council could spend millions of dollars doing up the central city, it could afford to cover or upgrade drainage in the area.

"I don't think they realise how bad this is," he said.

Mr Bell said the open channel was part of a stormwater network draining a large catchment flowing from Mountain Rd to Fairy Springs Rd.

"This network consists of sections of stormwater pipelines and open channel, and some sections are under-capacity and are likely to require upgrading as part of a future project.

"It is yet to be confirmed if this particular section of open channel will require any upgrading as part of that. There is still significant investigation and design work to be completed before the programme of work can be prioritised," Mr Bell said.

Another property owner in the area, who did not want to be named, said the open drain was a problem but he had built a fence at the back of his property to keep people away from it.

"It does overflow in heavy rain and because it's not enclosed it could easily wash a child away," he said.

Mr Bell said the issue was the council's responsibility.

"In many situations an open channel is the most appropriate and effective method of conveying stormwater. This drain, as part of the public stormwater network, is the responsibility of council to maintain, and we would not be telling owners otherwise.

"We will meet with the resident who has concerns about the drain at Park Rd and will visit the site and see if there is anything that can be done to allay the concerns."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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