Risk is not a reality for most people until it becomes an issue. How resilient are you to what is going on? Sometime in the future our assets may come up against a storm event bigger than what they were designed for, and it could happen at the worst time, like in the middle of the night. Our question to ourselves and our communities is: “How well do you understand the risk you, your family and property faces?” How prepared are we for a flood?
A lot of our infrastructure is from the 1960s and 70s, and at that time the priority was on the economic growth of the region. In the last 15 years the pendulum has been swinging the other way to provide more balance with non-economic issues such as the environment and health and safety. We have to build on what we have but also work with new technology and methods to meet the new requirements as environmental conditions, regulations and community expectations have changed. So, like any business, we’re having to take into account more and more things, and the cost goes up because we have to prove we are doing them. But the pot of money isn’t getting bigger.
If we look at how the schemes are funded, rates are collected by people from the area who can fund up to 75 per cent of the works. We know that some of the rates that some communities pay are eye watering. We are trying to make ourselves more efficient and provide our catchment committees visibility of what we are doing so they can understand and have confidence that we are spending the money in the best places possible.
What we want to do is spend a little, more often, to extend the life of an asset, rather than one big overhaul; like you would do an oil change to extend the life of your cars motor. So we go out and survey the stopbanks every couple of years or so, depending on the area, and we can see where we have to spend money to raise levels. With the pump stations and floodgates, they get their condition checked at least once a year
Every five to 10 years, we do a review of what is happening in each catchment area. What’s the current situation? We look at tides and oceans if applicable, and we get the latest information from the experts to find out what’s happening with rain intensity and duration. We do modelling for each catchment, and from there we can determine the impact on our flood protection assets. We live in these communities, too, so we want to know that our stopbanks are high enough, that our pumps are big enough. We are then in a position to say which areas are now a risk, and we modify work plans based on the new priorities to manage those risks.
We’re working to help protect families and our local communities.
Stopbanks are surveyed regularly, with levels raised if required.
"We live in these communities, too, so we want to know that our stopbanks are high enough, that our pumps are big enough."
Replacing the pipe to the Ngātea town pump station.