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Safeguarding our stopbanks

We’re doing work to strengthen sections of the stopbank along the Whakatāne River.

Stopbanks are only as strong as their weakest link and are vulnerable to damage caused by inappropriate use of the stopbank or vegetation or structures that shouldn’t be there.

Over the years non-approved structures, trees and gardens have been established outside private property boundaries (encroachments). These can create weakness in the stopbank structure through which water can flow in a flood and lead to the stopbank failing.  This process is also known as "seepage".

Vegetation and structures are being removed so the stopbank can be repaired and strengthened and continue to do its job to protect the community from flooding. The physical works involve the removal of fencing, trees, tree roots, landscaping, and structures from the public land. The stopbank is then remedied by placing and compacting appropriate fill material and contouring the banks. The final stage involves establishing a healthy grass cover. The work will involve heavy machinery and vehicles.

Stopbanks are generally raised earth embankments which provide protection from flooding. They form part of a wider flood defence system that may also include pump stations, floodwalls, drains and flood gates.

There are nearly 400kms of stopbanks in the Bay of Plenty region.

Here's a handy explainer on what stopbanks do:

stop bank diagram

No. The encroachments being removed are on public land, outside the legal title boundaries of private property owners. However close liaison with adjoining property owners is essential to minimise impacts for private landowners.

The work is being done stages. Completing each stage on time is weather dependent, however our teams are working to the following schedule:

  • Stage 1: Henderson Street west and Ferry Road complete
  • Stage 2: October 2022 – March 2023 Henderson Street east, Landing Road and Mananui Crescent
  • Stage 3: October 2023 – March 2024 Riverside Drive south
  • Stage 4: October 2024 – March 2025 Riverside Drive north

map of stopbank work

This work only affects those residents who have an encroachment outside their legal property boundary onto Whakatāne District/Bay of Plenty Regional Council land. If your property falls into the encroachment category, you should have already received correspondence from the Council. However, if you are unsure about whether there is an encroachment related to your property, please contact us using the ‘Send us queries’ form below.

Yes, access may be restricted to the Whakatane River Trail at times during the physical works. Please follow the instruction of project notices, health and safety signage and contractors on site.

Regional Council has focussed initially on the encroachments closest to the stopbanks in the urban areas alongside the Whakatāne River. This is because these areas have been identified as high risk in the asset performance and condition assessment work done following the April 2017 floods.

The encroachments, including fencing, also prevent Regional Council from having free and unrestricted access to the landward batter (side) and the crest (top) of the stopbank to maintain, monitor and control the use and condition of the stopbank.

Anyone who wants to carry out work near a stopbank, and any other flood protection and drainage infrastructure assets, needs to consider whether a Bylaw Authority (written permission) is needed from the Regional Council.

Use our interactive map to find your property and see if it is affected by these Bylaws.

The Bylaws aren’t in place to stop people from doing any work on their land, but to make sure any work carried out doesn’t unintentionally affect the integrity of our flood protection and drainage infrastructure assets.

Regional Council’s aim is to ensure the Bylaw Authority application process is not difficult. Our team has, and will continue, to work with landowners to provide for activities in a way that reduces risk to stopbanks.

No. The vegetation and structures (encroachments) are being removed because they’re on Council land and may present a risk to the flood protection system.

Grazing of certain types of stock is allowed under a grazing license. Regional Council acknowledges the best management approach is to exclude stock and regularly mow or harvest the grass. Unfortunately, in many situations, this is not practical or affordable. Grazing is a historical method used to maintain grass growth to enable inspections and to reduce the risk of fire during summer. 

Regional Council is investigating moving away from grazing near urban stopbanks, with a ‘cut and carry’ hay operation. This is where the area is sown to make hay, then harvested on a regular basis.

Regional Council is not involved in the planning or funding of recreational trails. Whakatāne District Council does promote the establishment of a recreational trail on the river bank/stopbank through its Active Whakatāne Strategy.

Please contact Whakatāne District Council for more information.

The concrete floodwall at the rear of Henderson Street and through to Landing Road is an key part of the flood protection system for the Whakatāne River.

This floodwall is located on top of a stopbank and provides the height needed to meet the flood protection level for urban Whakatane.

There will be no changes to the floodwall. However, as part of stopbank remedial work where the wall is located, some trees (and tree roots) growing into the stopbank will be removed.  Removing them ensures the integrity of the floodwall isn’t compromised.  

Page updates

A MONTH AGO May 2024 update

Great news: Stage 3 of the Safeguarding our Stopbanks (SOS) project has been completed by the end of April as planned.

2 MONTHS AGO Stopbank remediation project more than 70% complete

Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Safeguarding Our Stopbanks (SOS) project is now more than halfway through its four-year schedule, with completion of the fourth and final stage on track for April 2025.

Read the full media release.

 

2 MONTHS AGO We’re now 70% through the Safeguarding Our Stopbanks project

 

 

infographic
2 MONTHS AGO March 2024 update

Welcome to another issue of the Safeguarding our Stopbanks (SOS) newsletter. We’re incredibly pleased with how Stage 3 is tracking and (weather permitting) are confident we will finish the majority of the works by the end of April.

4 MONTHS AGO February 2024 update

Happy new year and welcome to 2024. We hope you’re having a great summer so far and enjoyed what the festive season had to offer. 

It’s been a busy year already as works on Stage 3 began w/c 8 January and, thanks to good weather days, have been making good progress.

6 MONTHS AGO December 2023 update

Welcome to our final issue of the SOS newsletter for 2023. While the weather has been challenging at times throughout the year, we’re pleased with what has been accomplished and hope for a smooth, efficient year ahead as we work to complete Stage Three.

 

earthworks
7 MONTHS AGO October 2023 update

Good weather days means good news for the project team and our contractors.

This issue provides more detail on the Stage 2 finishing works and the Stage 3 investigations, both of which are happening now.

stopbanks
9 MONTHS AGO September 2023 update

Welcome to spring and the official start of our construction season. This means the return of our regular SOS newsletter and, as we prepare to start Stage 3, we’re returning to our six-weekly distribution.

A YEAR AGO June 2023 update

Welcome to the fifth edition of our Safeguarding our Stopbanks community update.

Winter marks the traditional end of the construction season, so our teams are now making finishing touches to Stage 2, which primarily involves hydroseeding repaired areas of the stopbank and completing fencing work. The ongoing wet weather has made this work challenging so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a decent run of sunshine to get things tidied up.

A YEAR AGO June 2023 update

Welcome to the fifth edition of our Safeguarding our Stopbanks community update.

Winter marks the traditional end of the construction season, so our teams are now making finishing touches to Stage 2, which primarily involves hydroseeding repaired areas of the stopbank and completing fencing work. The ongoing wet weather has made this work challenging so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a decent run of sunshine to get things tidied up.

Tree roots
A YEAR AGO April 2023 update

Despite a wet start to the year, we’ve been making good progress on finalising Stage 2. We’ve included details in this update, what’s planned for Stage 3 and when this work is expected to be underway. We’ve provided an update on what’s happening with the inanga (whitebait) ponds near Stages 1 and 2.

A YEAR AGO February 2023 update

It’s a big year ahead as our team progresses Stage 2 and works on planning for Stage 3, which they expect to get underway in October. This is to coincide with the construction ‘season’ over the warmer (and hopefully drier) months from October to April.

In this update you’ll find a quick guide on the process we’ve developed to progress this work alongside property owners.

Stopbank Works (A) 1 Dec 2022
A YEAR AGO December 2022 update

Bad weather and poor ground conditions during much of November has delayed work on Stage 2. We’re hoping for more settled conditions over the next month to get as much done in the lead up to Christmas.

Map For Stopbank Work In Whakatane
A YEAR AGO November 2022 update

Thank you for your ongoing support of Regional Council work to safeguard stopbanks along urban sections of the Whakatāne River. We trust this update provides a useful update on what’s been happening, where things are at and how to stay informed.

Whakatāne stopbank
2 YEARS AGO Out of bounds: Safeguarding the Whakatāne stopbank

Plantings and structures outside property boundaries have prompted the need for remediation works along the Whakatāne River stopbank. 

Construction work is finishing up on the first stage of a project focused on safeguarding the stopbank to ensure it continues to function the way it should for generations to come.