Flooding causes endless heartbreak
When it rains, it pours for Morrinsville resident Tania Smith.
Looking for a fresh start in a nice, country town, Smith purchased her McPherson Drive property, which backed onto the Morrinsville Stream in 2014.
‘‘As soon as I saw it, I fell in love,’’ she said.
A gardener by trade, Smith got to work making her backyard look beautiful, buying plants, compost and garden ornaments.
But when a one-in-50 year storm hit at the beginning of the year, she watched on as all that hard work was washed away by the river flowing through her backyard.
Now every time there is heavy rain, her backyard floods. In April alone, her backyard flooded at least nine times. She’s resorted to closing her lounge curtains so she can’t see the damage being done.
‘‘I’ve got the point where I can’t face it. It’s heartbreaking, not just because of the work that we put in, but the money that was spent,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s like having the bloody Waikato River in your backyard.’’
Matamata-Piako District Council had advised the affected owners of houses in the area likely to be flooded of the situation in writing.
But after numerous attempts at getting answers, Smith feels like she is being ignored.
‘‘They originally came to me and said if worst comes to worst, council may look at purchasing the property back off me,’’ she said.
‘‘This is my investment and my home, and moving is not an option.’’
The property was subdivided in 2004/05 and at the time the subdivider’s engineer certified that the building platform was above the flood level of the adjacent stream.
The house was constructed in 2005/06 and at that time council had no indication that the house could be flooded in a one-in-50 year storm, which is the legal requirement of the Building Act.
There were no controls over the depth of flooding on the land.
Council Group Manager Business Services Manaia Te Wiata said in late 2014, staff expressed concern that proposed developments in the catchment of the Morrinsville Stream could exceed its capacity.
A consultant was engaged to model the runoff into the stream both now and with the predicted effect of proposed developments, he said.
‘‘About the time this report was being finalised (April 2015), a significant rain event occurred in the catchment and this was used to refine the model,’’ Te Wiata said.
‘‘Since then, council has investigated a number of options including enlarging culverts and constructing detention ponds but none of these were found to completely eliminate the possibility of the floor levels being flooded. Nor were they cost effective.’’
Council has taken advice and is not liable for any losses that the property owner may have suffered and is unable to offer any compensation in relation to this matter, he said.
‘‘Council is monitoring the situation, however the property met regulations at the time it was built and council was unaware that the increase in the intensity of rain events experienced in New Zealand would result in flooding of the property.’’
Tania Smith in her backyard that becomes a river during heavy rain.