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Risks remain despite new Coromandel town flood protection

Work on new flood protection stopbanks to protect part of the CBD in Coromandel township is due to start early in the new year after Environment Waikato’s council agreed to the work.

However, the lower part of the CBD and the Hauraki Road/Wharf Road area will not receive extra protection, said EW’s Peninsula Project manager Julie Beaufill.

The decision to go ahead with the new stopbanks was confirmed by EW last week after several years of discussion between the regional council, Thames-Coromandel District Council and the Coromandel town community on flood mitigation options for the area.

Formal consultation was carried out through EW’s recent Long-Term Council Community Plan process where the community made submissions on the proposal to construct stopbanks along the Karaka Stream.

As a result of the submissions process, stopbanks will be constructed along the Karaka Stream to provide protection to the upper and middle CBD in a significant flood event. This work is estimated to cost around $185,000 and it is hoped it will start in early 2010 once the necessary resource consents and landowner agreements have been gained.

But Ms Beaufill said this would still leave the lower part of the CBD and Hauraki Road/Wharf Road at high risk of flooding.

"The message from the community overall has been that this is fine and that people are prepared to live with the risk. There will be a reliance on the planning controls proposed under Thames-Coromandel District Council’s variation to the natural hazard section of the District Plan to manage development in the at-risk areas."

The stopbank work that has been approved will be funded by contributions from central Government, regional rates and targeted rates for the local community. Coromandel town ratepayers will pay between an estimated $0.53 and $70 per $100,000 capital value per annum depending on the benefit they receive from the works. Rating will not commence until the works have been completed.

Ms Beaufill said the new stopbanks will support other works already completed in the area such as the Elizabeth Park Retirement Village stopbanks, rock rip rap to prevent erosion on the Whangarahi and Karaka streams, and the regular stream maintenance programme.

John Morrisey, a Thames-Coromandel District Councillor who chaired a community working party which looked at flooding issues, said building the new stopbanks was a positive outcome for the town. He said the final decision recognised both the need to address flood risks and the community's reluctance to pursue large scale flood protection.

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