Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Auckland Mayor unveils future flood plan

Auckland Mayor, Wayne Brown, has today announced a comprehensive emergency recovery plan which he says will help rebuild the region and better prepare Aucklanders for future weather events.

“It’s been more than a month since our region was hit by a horrible one-two punch – the Auckland Anniversary floods and then Cyclone Gabrielle and we still have a lot to do to help our hardest hit communities. The work to build a stronger, more resilient Auckland requires a Big Auckland Fix Up,” the Mayor said.

“I have asked Jim Stabback, as Chief Executive, to initiate a rapid assessment of flood risk areas to identify simple fixes and then carry out the necessary programme of work in consultation with Watercare and Auckland Transport.

“I have also asked every local board to gather ideas from their communities and identify five main trouble spots and fixes in their area, which can be fed back into the process. I will then visit those sites with relevant engineers to understand the ideas and progress work,” he said.

The Mayor has identified several simple fixes to reduce flooding risks:

  • Clear streams and open drain channels on public and private land;
  • Lower non-arterial roads over constricted drains and waterways;
  • Build and improve turn-offs to utilise public stormwater storage in public parks and other areas;
  • ‘Daylight’ streams in places where they are enclosed in pipes or narrow paths to create floodplains and reduce flooding of residential areas.

“I’ve seen trees and rubbish in open drain channels that could be simply cleared to reduce flooding risks. Private property owners are responsible for maintaining watercourses running through their property and I expect the council to utilise its regulatory powers actively where trouble spots are identified,” the Mayor said.

“In some places, roads appear to have been configured to protect the road from flooding but in a way that makes flooding of houses worse. I would like council to consider lowering roads over constricted drains in these areas to ensure flows go from open channel to open channel.”

He said that while the ideas were not a complete solution, they were simple, cost effective and could make a difference.

“We need to prioritise inspecting the neighbourhoods that were worse affected by the recent events, some of which out west have seen flooding many times in recent years.”

“It is also obvious that Auckland must get better prepared for severe weather events and I expect to see an improvement in council’s emergency response capabilities. We need to rebuild local capabilities and response plans that have fallen into disrepair over the last six years and look at how we forecast and model flooding so we can provide better intelligence to the public.

“We need to restore and rebuild our broken roads, bridges, water system and buildings in a way that will make communities stronger and more resilient, and we need to address land use planning and building regulations.

“Recent events exposed problems in where and how some houses have been built in Auckland. In some cases, the government or courts have constrained council’s ability to regulate, and this will need to be addressed. The council must be able to say no and plan for infrastructure as managed retreat is a last resort option,” Mayor Brown said.

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