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HomeNew ZealandFranz protection starts — Waiho Flat remains in limbo

Franz protection starts — Waiho Flat remains in limbo

he Waiho River (Bailey) Bridge from the northern bank with existing rock protection.

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The Waiho River (Bailey) Bridge from the northern bank with existing rock protection.
Photo: Brendon McMahon/Greymouth Star

Stage one of the much anticipated Waiho (Waiau) River flood protection improvement costing up to $12 million, is expected to get underway this week.

However, the future of the second stage of the original $24m scheme is still unknown.

The possibility of half of the money being reallocated to another West Coast scheme was not out of the realm, West Coast Regional Council chief executive Heather Mabin said.

In 2020, the council submitted to the Government a Waiho protection scheme proposal, as part of a total package of $45.1m of flood work across Franz Josef, Hokitika, Greymouth and Westport, via the Covid ‘shovel ready’ economic stimulus package.

Mabin said council’s contractors would this week occupy the site at the northern bridge end of the Waiho stopbank.

Initial rock 'rip rap' work being done on the southern Waiho River Bridge approach in June, for the NZ Transport Agency.

Initial rock ‘rip rap’ work being done on the southern Waiho River Bridge approach in June, for Wake Kotahi.
Photo: Brendon McMahon/Greymouth Star

This was in anticipation of resource consent being granted for the first stage.

Investigation work would be on the existing northern stopbank toe, carried out by a digger.

“However, no physical works on the project itself will be undertaken until resource consent has been granted.”

The Waiho Flat area continues to support about 20 families undertaking a range of traditional pastoral farming and dairying.

The Waiho Flat area continues to support about 20 families undertaking a range of traditional pastoral farming and dairying.
Photo: Brendon McMahon/Greymouth Star

Other initial work was limited to site set up, understanding the existing utility services in the vicinity, and the existing stormwater drains on or near the alignment of the new works.

Community engagement not already undertaken and other matters not resolved prior to the full contract would also be addressed.

“Stage one, when completed, will provide protection against a 1 per cent AEP (Annual Exceedance Probability) flood for the next 20 years for the township. It’s important the town is given this time so it can make sound decisions as to its future.”

The AEP was the probability that a flood of a given (or larger) magnitude will occur within a period of one year.

However, the council was still awaiting “a definitive response” from the Government about stage two, which impacted the Waiho Flat farming district.

“We’re still putting pressure on central government about the final decision for stage two.”

This included contact with MBIE’s infrastructure division Kānoa as recently as last week.

The lack of clarity was particularly upsetting for Waiho Flat residents, Mabin said.

However, it might be that part of the original project would be reallocated as the Government considered the Westport protection scheme.

A decision on that was expected by Cabinet soon.

“We don’t want that to happen – there’s some very, understandably, upset Waiho River residents if they do not get stage two.

“The main thing is an answer from Government on stage two – a yes or no.”

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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