Stormwa­ter has new sta­tus

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Stormwa­ter projects cost­ing more than $500,000 will be com­pleted in Porirua in the next year, as city coun­cil of­fi­cers aim to prove these pipes are not the ‘‘poor cousin’’ of water sup­ply and waste­water.

Porirua City Coun­cil’s com­mit­tee noted the list of on­go­ing and up­com­ing stormwa­ter projects at a meet­ing on Septem­ber 1. The eight pri­or­i­ties in­clude new cul­verts, drains and up­grades of pipes to counter big storm events and run-off from the hills sur­round­ing the city.

Ranked from one to eight, sites in­clude Mun­gavin Ave, Ngati­toa St, Ran­gi­tuhu Cres, Sem­ple St and Bed­ford St, with the bud­get to­talling $541,000.

Kapi-Mana News went out to some of these lo­ca­tions with PCC se­nior water en­gi­neer Des Scrim­geour and strate­gic as­sets man­ager John Gibbs and they ex­plained some of the work to oc­cur.

A list was drawn up in 2009, they say, to­talling about 60 projects, and they are work­ing through them me­thod­i­cally.

Mr Scrim­geour has also drawn up a so­phis­ti­cated com­puter pro­gramme, us­ing Google maps – avail­able for the pub­lic to see through the PCC web­site – so they can track what work is tak­ing place in the city and where.

He makes the point that much of Porirua’s in­fra­struc­ture was in­her­ited from Hutt and Makara coun­cils, some of which was ‘‘in­ad­e­quate in some places, nonex­is­tent in oth­ers’’.

‘‘We are play­ing catch-up a bit, but stormwa­ter is be­com­ing a suc­cess story in Porirua. Three years ago we had a bud­get of $60,000 a year for stormwa­ter, now it’s more than $300,000, so you can see there has been a real shift. Stormwa­ter will al­ways be seen as the poor cousin of waste­water and water sup­ply but there’s bet­ter plan­ning pro­cesses, we’re not as re­ac­tive. The sys­tem also used to be built for one-in-five-year events, now it’s one-in-10.’’

The ‘‘weather bomb’’ at the end of March which turned Sem­ple St, in the CBD, into a river, and a sim­i­lar event in March 2010 in Raiha St, Els­don, has seen them learn some ‘‘hard lessons’’, Mr Gibbs says.

‘‘Those sorts of events are go­ing to hap­pen and it’s hard to con­trol that much water in a short space of time. It af­fects busi­nesses, res­i­dents, in­sur­ance lev­els and every­thing [all the run-off] ends up in the har­bour. What we have to do is put the right pro­to­cols in place, learn from the past and do things bet­ter.’’

Mr Gibbs says stormwa­ter is much more dif­fi­cult to con­trol in the ‘‘ built-up environment’’, so en­sur­ing new de­vel­op­ments, such as the Aotea sub­di­vi­sion, have the right mea­sures to deal with stormwa­ter is im­por­tant.

Porirua city coun­cil­lor Liz Kelly was not happy with the rank­ings of the 2011/12 projects, say­ing they had changed since PCC’s as­set man­age­ment plan came out in May.

Mr Gibbs says the as­set man­age­ment plans were ‘‘up­dated’’ in July but all of the work listed will be done in the next year.

Drain­ing away: This new stormwa­ter sys­tem in the re­serve off the end of Thomp­son Grove, a renowned stormwa­ter hot-spot in east­ern Porirua, could al­le­vi­ate many fu­ture stormwa­ter is­sues.

Sem­ple St river: The scene in March when tor­rents of rain flooded Sem­ple St, but $30,000 will be spent eas­ing the is­sues here.

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