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Published: 2016-05-05 00:00:00

New flood protection works being carried out at Graham’s Creek on the Coromandel have already been reaping benefits for the local community, including during last month’s major downpour which caused widespread problems.

Construction on the $600,000 project started in October last year. Since then some 23,000 cubic metres of material has been moved to bolster flood protection infrastructure. Work completed so far includes the bulk of the main new stopbank, spillway and flood plain works, a diversion drain and erosion protection, the digging of a new stream channel and a range of other activities.

Since Christmas the site has coped with more than 800 millimetres of rain, including the big one-in-10 years rainfall event that occurred in late April.

Waikato Regional Council says that event would have normally seen many properties along Ocean Beach Rd affected by flood water and damage to properties. But, despite the new flood control system still being under construction, the upgraded floodway works and water diversions already in place operated very successfully.

Council integrated catchment management team leader Emily O’Donnell said: “It’s brilliant to see what we’ve done so far having a positive impact already in terms of protecting local properties from flooding.”

The council’s project construction manager Kerry Smith said the site had been tested many times this year by heavy rain. “What was meant to be a prime construction season with little rain forecast has turned out to be quite the opposite with the site being tested multiple times. Our contractor has worked hard to keep the project on track and ensure the weather delays are minimal.”

Further work, including the planting of 13,000 trees, is due to be completed by June 2016.

Besides regional council staff and politicians, the design of the works has involved members of the Graham’s Creek community working party and Thames-Coromandel District Council staff and councillors. The final design is a reflection of community input and a desire to not only mitigate flooding but also enhance the natural environment.

The regional council’s Coromandel constituency councillor Clyde Graf said feedback he’d received indicated the works stood up very well to the recent storm, and he thanked council staff for their efforts. “It’s good to look back at the photos and video footage and see the progress that has been made in such a short period of time.”

Tairua-Pauanui community board chairman and working party member Bob Renton agreed it was fantastic to see such good progress. “What seemed much simpler on paper is more complex in reality. The flood scheme will connect with the upgraded causeway providing flood relief to this community.”

Fellow working party member and local resident Phil Smith said: “It’s pleasing to see our collective vision come to life and that already the flood plain modifications along with the causeway upgrade are doing their job. This has been a dream of the community for decades.”