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Inundation v. Erosion

This story by Eloise Gibson t from today's Newsroom  is instructive in many regards, but more particularly because it references the 5 January 2018 storm that caused substantial damage within the Gulf, and draws attention to the likely effects of varying levels of inundation over the entire country.

Why the story attracted my attention is because of long overdue attention it pays, at least as far as this District is concerned to inundation or flooding, as opposed to erosion that appears to be then main concern of our Council.

Erosion of course is the main concern of the Eastern Seaboard, and those likely to be affected are the ones most vocal in attracting the attention and financial commitment of the Council to taking corrective action by way of seawall, bund and bags along with diversion and other protection measures.

By contrast, interest in providing protection of any kind against inundation on the inside of the Gulf against wave action resulting mainly from storms - particularly when combined with spring tides as occurred on 5 January is extremely limited. Certainly, unless existing works were provided bu the Regional Council, it has specifically denied any responsibility. This leaves those residents whose homes and businesses may have been built long before concern for these conditions became a fact of life.

I have sat through Council meetings when the subject has come up, and observed the marked bias toward combating East Coast erosion which endangers homes and town centres that have in the main been built comparatively recently, even currently in the case of the Whitianga Town Centre, and in defiance of the obvious danger. Legal threats against Council for having allowed development in these areas have been publicly, and loudly expressed at times. 

On the other hand, residents of Thames, Te Puru and Coromandel who are equally at risk, but whose properties long pre-date East Coast developments, are told that their problems are therefore theirs and theirs alone. Almost no assistance from either Council was offered following the 5 January event - even to the extent that Tararu residents were obliged to take matters into their own hands, and subscribe to a private fund to effects repairs to existing infrastructure. What was forthcoming was reluctantly given, and comprised a few loads of rock, and limited assistance with wall repair

Major danger posed by the inaction on the part of the Bupa owned retirement village at Tararu to undertake any breast-works at their property endangers the entire village and adjacent suburb. Meanwhile, Mr Parker's village at the mouth of the Kauaeranga proceeds apace. The madness of this , particularly with the advent of this report has to date appeared to escape the attention of our Council, but unsurprisingly, not that of potential buyers.                               

There is something essentially unfair about this state of affairs, and although the risk may well be covered in the Coastal Assessment that we are told is underway, their is no way that the budget for essential and urgent works will extend to any of those works needed on the Gulf. In fact, it remains at much as risk today as it did on 4 January, and stoic residents have been left to deal with their insurance companies, if they have any, as best they can.

With the departure of Jan Van der Liet as Coastal Engineer, I am not sure of the status of the Coastal Assessment on which future Council action is supposed to be based, but there is no indication that any action will result in regard to the areas most at risk on the Gulf, and this while plans for substantial expenditure are being announced for the eastern Seaboard. And once again, these works will be undertaken as a 'District' charge, on the grounds, as always, of being 'un-affordable.'




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Reader Comments (1)

Firstly, thanks yet again Bill for your Blog and for keeping readers informed of such topical matters relevant to our district, and to our Council. In the absence of the MSM now having a meaningful local presence, I consider you perform a great function in keeping our community informed!
I have read Eloise Gibson's story included via a link in your article. I would not place much reliance on her following reference to the Thames Coast Jan. 5 2018 storm: "Any particular area of New Zealand might expect to see a flood that big only once a century, but . . ." (She goes on to cover the responsibility of Councils arising from the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.) With the known effects of the changing climate, it is rather wishful to think that the Thames Coast wont experience a similar storm for a very long time. ('One in 100 year' events now seem to happen much more frequently than expected). In regard to 'flooding/inundation', with the Jan. 5 storm we were very lucky indeed to not have had heavy rain at the same time as the high tide and storm surge. Heavy rainfall is common with such low pressure conditions. If there had been heavy rain, water from the various streams running out to sea through Thames, and at Tararu, Te Puru etc. would have had nowhere to go for some hours because of the banked-up tide - other than across their related flood plains! I would put money on Thames, and the low-lying coastal settlements to the North, incurring a similar event to the Jan. 5 one, well within the next 100 years! Our Council has to plan accordingly. Let's hope it does so. I for one will watch with interest, the Council's consultation with communities on the development of 'Shoreline Management Plans' (see page 7 of the latest Hauraki Herald) - to judge how committed the Council is towards formulating sustainable plans for our coastal communities, including of course Thames. As you will know, the first community consultation is to be tomorrow Monday, August 12, at the Thames Civic Centre, 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

August 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTim

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