Reserve damage concerns

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A Wanaka woman is concerned not enough is being done to address continued damage to the Hikuwai Reserve from stormwater runoff.
Anna Simmonds has been monitoring the reserve for several years and often visits after heavy rain.

Damage to trees, paths and trails in the Hikuwai Reserve has worsened and larger areas are being affected after each stormwater event, she said.
When it rained heavily, the stormwater runoff turned into a flood of water that destroyed trees and bushes.

A mountain bike trail was now completely destroyed in places, and Rockabilly Gully was a large pit with many uprooted trees.
Pathways had given way and there were deep hole in places that could be hazardous for visitors to the reserve, she said.

The Department of Conservation (Doc) said the large amount of erosion in the Hikuwai Reserve would need to be assessed.

Doc senior ranger and community supervisor Annette Grieve said she met the Queenstown Lakes District Council this week to discuss stormwater issues in the recreation reserve.
‘‘They acknowledge that recent nearby developments have activated the natural water course through the reserve, causing erosion and impacting on the formed tracks that cross the channel.’’

The council said stormwater flows exceeded pre-development levels and that work was under way to ensure that stormwater flow replicated pre-development levels, she said.
This included re-evaluating the flow of the stormwater and installing infrastructure to limit the flow to a natural level.
Doc would be assessing the need for work within the reserve once the council had completed their re­evaluation, Ms Grieve said.

Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesman Jack Barlow said the council took stormwater system design very seriously.

All stormwater system designs for large developments, such as the Hikuwai subdivision, were peer­ reviewed by experts in the stormwater field.
The designs would be accepted only if they met the council’s land development and subdivision standards.‘‘If designs do not meet these standards, QLDC will address the matter with the designers,’’ he said.

Otago Regional Council chairwoman Marian Hobbs visited the Hikuwai Reserve recently with Ms Simmonds, observing that a ‘‘path’’ had been pushed through the scrub by water, large holes, and nearer to the river a slip had taken out a shared wooden path and bikeway.

For the regional council it highlighted what issues it must cover in its new regional policy statement, on the effects of activity on land which might cause stormwater run-off, she said.

‘‘We are currently beginning work to write the new regional policy statement and to consult on it with the community.’’
The first round of consultation would take place in March, including early evening public meetings in both Queenstown and Alexandra.

The council hoped it would be a stronger policy statement covering such issues as the effects of land disturbance and activity.
The regional policy statement was ‘‘the parent to all the rules that follow and all the district plans’’, she said.