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Published: 2003-02-24 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has begun one of its major flood control and river management projects as part of Project Watershed, on the Tauranga Taupo River near Taupo.

The million dollar project is the culmination of several years of development, consultation and preparatory work designed to protect land and property in the vicinity of the Tauranga Taupo River from flooding.

Environment Waikato project manager Bruce Peploe said the river had a volatile catchment with storms, which created problems on the flood plain. The river often broke out of its course, flowing through rural land and into residential settlements.

It had realigned into an old excavated quarry area in December 2001 and had changed course several times, putting properties at risk.

There were major floods in 1998, 2000 and 2001 which affected residential areas and significant flooding of rural land, especially south of Oruatua to Kiko Rd. A small Taupo District Council stopbank, constructed some years ago and intended as the first stage of a larger scheme, protected the residential area of Oruatua but had not been maintained. There were also culverts under the State Highway to take water from the stopbanked rural areas.

“The flood control and river management work will reduce the risks of damage to property and land and contribute to local community safety and peace of mind, as well as protecting roading, services and septic tanks.

“The urban areas of Oruatua and the western end of Te Rangiita will be protected from flooding by stopbanking, river channel control, river overflows control and providing spillways and ponding in the quarry area.”

Over the summer routine river management works were completed, including clearing logs, branches and vegetation from the river channel and bank protection measures where they were needed.

In future, this type of work would be undertaken each year on a regular basis to maintain a clear river channel as much as possible, he said.

An important part of the project and ongoing maintenance of the river is also to protect the trout fishery and establish a stable, quality river environment. The Tauranga Taupo River is the second largest river in the Lake Taupo catchment, and is highly valued for its trout fishing and recreational use.

A resource consent has been issued for the work, which sets strict conditions about the way it is to be undertaken. Consent conditions have been agreed with local groups, including property owners and the Department of Conservation. A contract for the work has been let to local firm Kernohan Contractors Ltd and work will begin before the end of February.

Residents pay a special rate to cover some of the cost of the work under Project Watershed.