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Published: 2012-06-26 00:00:00

Ten years ago the 2002 weather bomb severely rocked Coromandel communities, including the settlement of Te Puru.

Now Waikato Regional Council has announced the successful completion of flood mitigation works at the township.

Te Puru is the last of five big flood mitigation projects undertaken by the regional council on the Thames Coast as a result of the weather bomb, at a combined total cost for protection works of around $6.5 million.

The work – under the umbrella of the Peninsula Project - has involved co-operation and funding from Thames-Coromandel District Council, the Department of Conservation, the New Zealand Transport Agency, central Government, the regional council and local communities and ratepayers.

“It’s really pleasing to be able to announce that we now have in place fully completed new flood mitigation infrastructure at Te Puru,” said Coromandel zone manager Julie Beaufill.

“Te Puru suffered significant damage to properties and infrastructure during the weather bomb, and has a history of the local stream flooding and severe damage impacts.”

Ms Beaufill said the various works at Te Puru have included:

  • Stopbanks and floodwalls to retain floodwaters in the stream channel
  • Replacing a bridge
  • Stream bank erosion protection and maintenance
  • Possum and goat control on Crown and private land in the catchment

“The flood mitigation works we have carried out, at a total cost of around $2.4 million, mean a far greater standard of protection for around 160 at risk properties in the township, and many more will benefit indirectly,” she said.

The capital flood mitigation works at Te Puru have been funded by central government, Waikato Regional Council and residents, who will make their contribution by way of a targeted rate from 1 July 2013.

The Te Puru flood mitigation works have been constructed to a 100 year event design standard. This means that there will be protection for the community from the smaller, more frequent flood events as well as the more significant events, which might occur once every 100 years on average. This protection will mean reduced flooding of homes and properties, surety of access to essential services in an emergency and support for infrastructure.

The successful completion of the project at Te Puru comes after the following four other major flood mitigation projects on the Thames Coast since the 2002 weather bomb:

  • Coromandel town
  • Tapu
  • Waiomu-Pohue
  • Tararu.

Those projects have included stopbanks and floodwalls, channel protection works and regular stream maintenance. The work means those communities, like Te Puru, have had their flood protection defences substantially boosted.

“All of these projects, including Te Puru, have involved local communities having a strong input into the way flood protection has been improved, as well as close collaboration between various local and central government agencies,” Ms Beaufill said.

“It’s a great example of what can be achieved within a reasonably short space of time to substantially bolster an area’s defences against flood events.”

The beefing up of flood protection in the five communities complements other works carried out under the Peninsula Project over the past decade, including:

  • more than 40 soil conservation or clean stream projects carried out annually, which have included planting more than 100,000 native trees and fencing more than 160 kilometres of stream and forest fragments.
  • around $300,000 of riparian restoration and biodiversity work carried out annually with Peninsula Project support.
  • working with landowners on clean up works in response to storm events such as Cyclone Wilma.
  • development of harbour and catchment management plans for Whangamata, Wharekawa and Tairua.

Key work ahead for the Peninsula Project includes implementation of completed harbour and catchment plans and development of plans for the remaining harbours. There will also be work to mitigate the impact of flooding in other key areas such as Manaia and Graham’s Creek, and continuing support for landowners undertaking bush, wetland and stream protection and enhancement works on their properties.