Stormwater has new status
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.