15 February 2019

Sixteen months after receiving the findings of the Rangitāiki River Scheme Review, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has actioned all of the report recommendations.

The Council commissioned an independent review of its rivers and drainage infrastructure and the circumstances that led to the 6 April 2017 breach of a stop bank on College Road, and the resulting flooding and evacuation of Edgecumbe. Sir Michael Cullen chaired the review panel and its report was presented to Council on 3 October 2017.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s General Manager Integrated Catchments Chris Ingle presented a report to Council yesterday detailing the implementation of the review recommendations, all of which are either now completed, or embedded in Council’s ongoing Long Term Plan delivery.

“A cross-organisation working group was formed to coordinate Council’s response to the recommendations and its progress was reported to our Audit and Risk Committee every three months. Our focus over the last year on enacting the Independent Review’s recommendations has greatly improved the safety and resilience of the communities that live alongside the Rangitāiki River. It has also raised community awareness of the risks of river flood events.

Council has reviewed its catchment monitoring systems and added three new monitoring sites to increase coverage and network resilience. We have improved our working relationship with Trustpower and refined the Lake Matahina Flood Management Plan and protocols around safely lowering lake water levels in response to heavy rainfall. We have developed templates for communication between our two organisations during a flood event, which have since been tested in an event scenario exercise.”

“Among a number of technical recommendations, we completed the priority reconstruction of the College Road stopbank, engaging a community technical advisory panel to act as an interface with the community around the flood defence design. Our work to progress the Rangitāiki Floodway Project is ongoing as part of the wider River Scheme Sustainability Project, and we’re committed to making sure that work involves the community and aligns with the review recommendations,” Mr Ingle added.

Council resolved to send a copy of Mr Ingle’s report to Sir Michael Cullen, to provide assurance that the review recommendations have been implemented.