$3 million latest Awanui flood works progressing well

27 Apr 2021, 11:36 AM

More than $3 million of upgrade work that collectively makes up a third bout of annual improvements to the Awanui flood scheme is progressing well, authorities say.

Colin ‘Toss’ Kitchen, the Northland Regional Council’s Te Hiku representative, says the council is largely through the third annual construction season of the wider $15M overall scheme upgrade, now expected to be completed in 2022/2023.

Last construction season about $1.1M work was done as part of the Awanui scheme upgrade, but a subsequent multimillion-dollar injection from central government as part of its Covid-19 recovery response package is allowing the upgrade to be done more quickly and at less direct cost to ratepayers.

Councillor Kitchen says as well as dramatically shortening the time needed to carry out the upgrade, the government funding through the Provincial Development Unit would also lessen much of the associated burden on the NRC’s ratepayers.

Two men by earth moving machinery.Kaitaia Contractors Ltd Site Supervisor Dave Batcher, left, and regional council Kaitaia Area Manager Peter Wiessing, discuss progress in mid-summer on a new stopbank under way off Rongopai Pl.The 20/21 construction schedule involves about $3,050,000 of works, including extensive earthworks for southern spillways currently underway over about 2.4 hectares of former farmland behind Rongopai Place.

Those works include construction of 280 metres of new stopbanking to better protect 29 flood-prone homes in Rongopai Pl, and approximately 900m metres of new spillway.

Councillor Kitchen says the $1.1M of southern spillways works will account for more than a third of this season’s works and are now 90% complete although the spillways will not be used for the next year or two to allow grass to become well-established.

In an additional community benefit, some of the excess fill from the works had also been used to improve the nearby show ground and equestrian track.

The weather-dependent construction season typically ends in May and of the other work, Church Road scour protection and stopbank stabilisation is about 60% complete, while work at Allan Bell Park work is about 10% complete.

Meanwhile, timber has been ordered for construction of the ‘Milky Way’ floodwall near the SH1 Waikuruki Bridge, which can progress irrespective of wet weather.

The council also has $4M of works scheduled to begin late this year for the new 2021-2022 construction season and another $5M – which should mark the completion of the upgrade – for the year after that.

Councillor Kitchen says the upgrade programme is designed to help future-proof the decades-old scheme (including predicted climate change impacts) as well as deliver a considerably higher level of protection for Kaitaia and surrounding areas. “The upgrade collectively is designed to protect urban Kaitaia in a ‘once in a century’ type flood and a 1:20 year event in surrounding rural areas.”

Councillor Kitchen says already Northland’s most common natural hazard, flooding will likely get more intense as climate change continues, increasing risks to communities in flood-prone areas and to critical infrastructure like roading.

“One of the key drivers for the Awanui scheme upgrade is to make sure we’re collectively doing as much as we can now to prepare and adapt for what the future is predicted to hold.”

The council has previously warned that without the added protection offered by the upgraded Awanui scheme, a large flood in urban Kaitaia could cause tens of millions of dollars in damage and potentially put lives at risk.

Regional council Kaitaia Area Manager Peter Wiessing on a hill overlooking the 2.4 hectare southern spillway construction site in mid-January.

Regional council Kaitaia Area Manager Peter Wiessing on a hill overlooking the 2.4 hectare southern spillway construction site in mid-January.