New plan wanted before more floods

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Holding back the water is the aim of the Wanaka Central Business District Property Owners Group.

Spokesman Roger Gardiner said it had been a year since the December 2019 floods and it was seeking more information to help plan for future flood events.

Many volunteer hours were spent filling and placing sandbags in front of stores, but there might be more effective measures for low-level floods.

‘‘Maybe we can do other things that are more productive.’’

Sandbags in front of the shops became ‘‘a dog’s breakfast’’ after a while.

One suggestion was placing sandbags along Ardmore St, Mr Gardiner said.

‘‘If we could sandbag down the middle of the road and maybe keep that as the seawall, it means we don’t have to clutter up every shop entrance.’’

The group was seeking more post-flood analysis and an action plan, and wanted someone who lived locally to be able to more swiftly assess and make decisions if a flood event occurred.

Although there was little to avoid large events such as the 1999 flood where the lake level reached 281.32m, there could be something done to mitigate smaller events such as last year when the level reached up to 280.38m, he said.

Mr Gardiner believed within three years there could be another similar-sized flood.

‘‘They look like they are becoming more regular so let’s be smart about having plans.’’

A Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesman said work was continuing on a lakefront development plan, part of which would look at mitigation measures for more frequent floods.

At a recent meeting with some representatives of the Wanaka central business district it was agreed high lake events could be managed but not entirely mitigated, he said.

Although the last flood at Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka was managed by a large council team, there would be an even more visible presence in Wanaka during any future occurrence.

‘‘This will be filled by an emergency management officer to work alongside the community, contractors, and other stakeholders,’’ he said.

Guidelines for lakefront businesses on how to prepare for floods, including emergency plans and business continuity plans, what to do and where to go when flooding occurs were being updated.

The council and its contractors were ready to respond to any event in the district.

Operational plans including sandbagging and pumping would be considered in each situation and would, if deemed appropriate, be deployed.

Measures undertaken were relative to the nature, scale and urgency of the event.

‘‘Flexibility is key in responding . . .as no two events will be the same.”

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