Only 11 submissions on debris flow plans

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Only 11 submissions from the community have been received by the Otago Regional Council in response to its consultation about possible remedial or mitigation options to prevent further flood and debris flow damage in the Teviot Valley.

Following the combined ORC, New Zealand Transport Agency and Central Otago District Council-hosted “Roxburgh Debris Flow: Community Information Session” public meeting in Roxburgh in May, Teviot Valley residents were asked to make submissions on any future course of action by the ORC.

About 80 people attended the meeting to hear presentations from the agencies and GNS Science scientists about the flood and debris flows that occurred in Roxburgh on November 26 last year.

ORC acting manager natural hazards Ben Mackey said the council had received eight responses on the “HaveYourSay” online platform and three additional emailed responses.

He said respondents raised a wide range of issues.

“Notable concerns were about the Reservoir Creek concrete channel filling with sediment and erosion of the channel above the concrete section,” he said.

He said they were also reviewing feedback from the consultation and the public meetings to determine what the most appropriate next steps would be.

He said they had yet to make any decisions about what they would be, or about a timeline or costs and would not be able to do so until they had finished the review process.

Mr Mackey said the ORC was working on a plan for some proposed works to manage the channels.

“We will be working with NZTA and CODC in due course about how we can best work together on this.”

Between 40mm and 100mm of rain fell in the valley in an hour on the Sunday, which led to flooding and extensive damage from debris flows in the township and on property at Millers Flat.

Residents were told similar events were likely to happen again and work was required to mitigate any future problems, including building bigger bridges, culverts and channels, and installing a warning system.

The report said building bigger culverts and bridges would be the most expensive option, while installing a warning system would be cheaper in the short term, but have higher maintenance costs long term, and would reduce the risk to lives, but would not do anything to reduce other risks.

Other suggested options included removing buildings likely to be affected in the future, or accepting the risks.

Teviot Valley Community Board member Stephen Jeffery said even though the ORC received only 11 submissions, he thought the council’s public workshop in May might have gone some way towards alleviating some people’s concerns.

“There were definitely some concerns [by residents] about what happened during the flood event, and the potential for it to happen again.”

He did not think the low number of submissions meant people were being apathetic, but perhaps that the submission process could be a bit daunting.

Teviot Valley Community Board chairman Raymond Gunn said he expected to discuss the results in council and at community board level, once they were available.

He said the councillors had their own ideas about what needed to be done.

The focus was likely to be on the culvert across the highway and work was required above and below Reservoir Creek, where the main problems occurred.

“While the damaged areas did not affect too many people, those affected were affected quite badly.”