July saw record rainfall in many parts of the country and Christchurch certainly bore its fair share with its wettest month of any on record, recording 310mm of rain - roughly half of the amount that Christchurch typically records over a full year, and compared to its average July rainfall of 60mm.
This led to considerable surface flooding but was mainly confined to parts of the city that are prone to flooding in big rain events.
Much of the land Christchurch is built on, was in pre-European times, swampy. Post the earthquakes, considerable geo tech analysis guided the extensive renewal and replacement of underground water services and the development of sizeable flood basins to take the excess stormwater in big weather events. The system although reaching capacity, worked.
Discussion is now about frequent flooding areas. One is a commercial area of St Albans which has seen an iconic butchery flooded several times this year.
The fix would cost an estimated $23m which the council is currently considering.
While council mitigation proposals seem slow, the question has to be, "Would response to these problems be better or worse if Christchurch water assets and ongoing management of them were in the hands of a whole of the South Island water authority?"
The point is, locally we know what needs to be done. A solution can be worked up and a funding programme allocated. But with the new water authority, local representation will need to identify issues, convince the whole South Island authority that it needs sorting, and wait for that system to process and hopefully approve it.
How on earth can that be efficient? Water issues in Christchurch are very different to Invercargill and Dunedin in the south, or Blenheim and Nelson in the north, let alone the West Coast.
The value of our water assets in Christchurch is $6.9 billion. The Prime Minister says the ownership of them will stay with the city but that's a fanciful notion when all decisions about them are made by the new entity.
Ratepayers stumped up about $1.7 billion post the earthquakes to build in resilience and long life to these assets. There is no way the cost imposed by the new authority will be less than the $1000 average water and waste charges currently in Christchurch rates bills. So there's loss of assets and local control, and greater costs.
Local Government New Zealand has asked for the stormwater assets and administration to be left out of the Three Waters structure and left with local councils who know these areas and needs.
There's a slim chance of that happening. The Government has an outright majority and even though the legislation has yet to be passed, it is already advertising for a chief executive for the new South Island entity. It can do this because it has the numbers to do what it likes, even though the Christchurch City Council has said please don't.
I hope the new CEO at least has enough sense to locate central command in the South Island, and preferably in Christchurch.
Te Pae Convention Centre
Meanwhile, our splendid new Convention Centre is doing very good business with bookings well into 2023. It's a great facility in the centre of the city bounded by Cathedral Square, the Avon River, Victorian Square, and the currently under construction Court Theatre.
With its striking design containing a 1500-seat capacity auditorium, vast display areas, and multiple breakout rooms, it's set to become one of the country's iconic buildings.
Above ground, our assets like the Convention Centre give life to any city.
Below ground, assets such as Three Waters are essential to life in the city, and they too should be in local ownership and control.