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Consents granted for Oruatua flood protection

Environment Waikato has been granted resource consents to undertake flood protection works near the Tauranga-Taupo River along Heuheu Parade, Oruatua.

A joint Hearing was held at Turangi before Commissioners RG Eyeington and R van Voorthuysen with Taupo District Council Hearing Commissioner Dr Bryan Bang. Six (6) submissions were lodged with Taupo District Council, six with Environment Waikato by neighbours. Environment Waikato's River and Catchment Services Group plans works on the Tauranga-Taupo River to reduce flood risk and provide erosion protection.

The Committee heard that Environment Waikato’s Project Watershed identified the community need for flood protection and river management. The Council identified flood control works designed to protect residential and rural communities of Te Rangiita and Oruatua from a 50 year flood event, including a series of stopbanks, diversions and erosion protection works.

It is the third application within the last two years for flood protection works along the river. Consents for the upper part of the works were granted in February 2003 and consents for erosion protection structures further down were granted in March 2004.

During processing of the application a storm event occurred in June which initiated the construction of most of a timber flood protection wall and placement of rock rip rap on the left river bank next to Heuheu Parade. Remaining works include an additional plank and capping board to complete the timber wall to design flood level and stopbank construction.

The Council has constructed flood protection works upstream of the proposed works in line with a 50 year flood protection level.

A submitter presented a written record detailing historical floods and highlighting her concerns about consultation and the design of the scheme. She said a folding board option for the top plank of the timber wall was acceptable to her.

Another submitter was concerned about the proposed height of the timber wall interfering with views of the river and effects on property values. He was also concerned about safety for river users and access issues for boat users with the existing rock rip rap.

Environment Waikato resource officer Sheryl Roa said there were potential difficulties in compliance and monitoring if a folding board was added to conditions. The Committee said Environment Waikato had undertaken comprehensive consultation with the affected communities and determined that protection from a 50 year return flood was appropriate.

Some Heuheu Parade residents questioned the need for the height of the timber wall proposed. The Committee said about 23 houses in the area were likely to be inundated during floods up to and including a 50 year return period. It was in the wider public interest that the proposed protection works proceed as applied for.

The flood wall would protect against floods on many occasions, and not just once in 50 years. A folding board option did not provide certainty for the community, and relying on community involvement during a potential flood created an unnecessary risk.
Overall, the Committee found that potential adverse effects of the works were no more than minor. Reasonable public access would be maintained and in some respects enhanced.

The Committee said the wider public interest of providing reliable protection against all floods up to and including the 1 in 50 year return period outweighed the fact that some resident’s view of the river would be impeded. A consent term of 35 years was appropriate, given the permanent nature of the works and their flood protection purpose.

Taupo District Council also granted land use consent to install landscaping, a footpath and car parking bays on the land adjoining the flood protection works.

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