Flooded and frustrated with council over drainage issues at Mt Albert property

By Sarah Harris

Tracey, Andrew and Calvin Quinn. Photo / Supplied
Tracey, Andrew and Calvin Quinn. Photo / Supplied

An Auckland family's home has flooded up to 12 times in seven years despite it being a no-flood-risk area according to council plans.

Andrew Quinn and his wife Tracey will have to replace their $15,000 under-floor heating system for a second time after last weekend's heavy rain - which saw a month's worth of rain fall in one day across Auckland and Coromandel - flooded the electrical system.

They spent hours pumping out floodwater from their Malvern Rd, Mat Albert, home over the weekend, estimating more than 150,000 litres of water was pumped from the property.

The floodwaters were contaminated by an overwhelmed manhole, he said.

On top of the flood, their 1-year-old son had a narrow escape - after figuring out how to get through the dog door.

While Quinn was outside pumping floodwaters on Saturday, his son crawled through the dog door and was making his way towards the floodwater.

"If I hadn't seen him do this, we could have very well had a drowning death to deal with as well."

But the couple said the property was not deemed a flood risk when they bought it in 2010 - according to the LIM report and the council floodplain plans, which they checked prior to purchasing the house.

Andrew Quinn and his wife Tracey  spent hours pumping out floodwater from their Malvern Rd, Mt Albert, home, estimating more than 150,000 litres of water was pumped from the property.
Andrew Quinn and his wife Tracey spent hours pumping out floodwater from their Malvern Rd, Mt Albert, home, estimating more than 150,000 litres of water was pumped from the property.

"According to the council records I looked at we were not in a flood zone, so should be at no risk of flooding. Clearly this is not the case," Quinn said.

After the weekend's deluge the couple were forced to hire a pump to get rid of the water in their home.

Quinn estimated he and his neighbour pumped up to 150,000 litres of water out of their properties until 2.30am. He also had to get phone and internet line repairs, hire a submersible pump and clean up the devastating mess.

They blame the council for not fixing what Quinn described as inadequate and blocked stormwater drainage.

He has asked for an investigation into the entire drainage system, where it leads and how it can be accessed via the soakhole.

Andrew Quinn says the  floodwaters were contaminated by an overwhelmed manhole, which he said was inaccessible after a subdivision was built on top of it.
Andrew Quinn says the floodwaters were contaminated by an overwhelmed manhole, which he said was inaccessible after a subdivision was built on top of it.

The council had previously put a camera into the cesspit at the back of his property last year, he said, and a soakhole that "looked severely clogged" was discovered.

Quinn thought council had tried to get access to the soakhole but a subdivision had been built on top and it was inaccessible.

"Six months later we get a letter saying this is yours, you guys need to maintain it in conjunction with other property owners," Quinn said.

"Yet they've said that it doesn't work and we have no access to it. They're just trying to hand the problem off."

In response to Herald questions, Craig Mcilroy, general manager healthy waters at Auckland Council said Malvern Rd had recently been identified as a "flood sensitive area" following a flood-hazard mapping exercise.

"Healthy Waters updated the property files in the area to outline overland flows and potential flood plains," he said.

The owners blame the council for not fixing what Andrew Quinn described as inadequate and blocked stormwater drainage.
The owners blame the council for not fixing what Andrew Quinn described as inadequate and blocked stormwater drainage.

Quinn's property was lower than several other properties on the street, he said, and during heavier rain events "there is a strong likelihood that surface run-off will flow down from those higher properties".

The house was on an overland flow path, and "will always experience some water ponding", Mcilroy said.

"If the upstream private drainage systems are properly maintained, the extent of flooding would be significantly reduced.

"Most drainage systems in this area are private soakage systems. There is minimal council infrastructure in this area."

The maintenance of private drains and soakage systems was the responsibility of the home owners, Mcilroy said.

However, he said the council was in the early stages of investigating option to improve water infrastructure in the area.

Problems caused by last weekend's storm are still being felt across Auckland, with water restrictions still in place.

Aucklanders failed for the third day running to hit the water restriction target of 400 million litres. Wednesday's water usage hit 415 million litres - 6 million litres more than Tuesday.

Aucklanders have been asked to reduce their water use by 20 litres per person per day until the end of the month.

If significant savings are not met, Watercare has warned it may have to release partially treated water into the system, forcing people to boil water before use.

Watercare tips to save water

1. Cut your shower time by two minutes: Estimated saving: 16 litres.

2. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Estimated saving: 4 litres.

3. Only run your dishwasher when it's full.

4. Only run your washing machine when it's full.

5. Use the half-flush on your toilet.

- NZ Herald

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