A vandalism attack on a remote automated monitoring station in Waitōtara Valley has left communities and livelihoods vulnerable to unexpected flooding, the Taranaki Regional Council says.
Council hydrology officers discovered the damage while checking the network of monitoring stations in the upper Waitōtara Valley catchment.
Temporary repairs were made to get the station back online but full repairs will not be finished for another two weeks.
The stations generate automated phone alerts to locals when rivers reach certain trigger levels, so that farmers know when they should move stock or take other precautions, and communities and roading contractors know when road access may be at risk.
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Taranaki Regional Council science manager Regan Phipps says the vandalism is a 'huge' disservice to the rural community.
"Our flood monitoring networks are hugely important, so we were gutted to find that vandals had been at work."
He says anyone who sees people tampering with monitoring equipment should call the police immediately.
The council operates 22 flood warning stations across the region, with the key ones in the Waitōtara River, Waiwhakaiho River and Waitara River catchments.
They are among the council's 62 automated environmental monitoring sites across Taranaki, all of which feed data to the TRC website. Visit www.trc.govt.nz/regional-overview/ for more information.