Investing in Southland's future
Environment Southland has applied for almost $18 million dollars’ worth of upgrades to the region’s essential flood protection infrastructure, as part of the Government’s “shovel-ready” infrastructure initiative.
Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said the investment would improve the community’s resilience to floods, which are Southland’s highest risk natural hazard, and to the potential effects of climate change.
“Our stopbanks showed their worth in the February floods in Gore, Mataura and Wyndam. The proposed upgrades are an investment in Southland’s future. Ensuring we have strong, efficient flood protection systems is an essential part of our preparation for the potential impacts of climate change.”
Environment Southland has applied for funding for three separate projects. This includes a joint application with the Invercargill City Council to upgrade stop bank infrastructure in Invercargill, worth $23 million. This would involve raising the height of the Stead Street, Waihopai and Otepuni stop banks and replacing the Stead Street pump station, which helps to drain water from the Invercargill Airport and surrounding areas. Environment Southland has applied for approximately $7 million of the total funding.
Funding for the two other projects include just over $10 million towards upgrading and raising the Gore, Mataura and Wyndham stop banks, and $800,000 for erosion repairs on the Waiau River, following the December flood.
“It is now more important than ever to invest in maintaining and upgrading the stop banks to cope with future challenges.”
Environment Southland’s flood protection system is its major infrastructure with 458kms of stop banks across Southland – Mataura, Oreti, Makarewa, Aparima, Te Anau and Invercargill. They are designed to protect people, property and livelihoods.
During the February floods our stop banks and many hectares of designated flood spill zones were tested to their limit. At the time there were predictions of flood waters going far beyond their capacity. Fortunately, the Mataura River at Gore peaked at 2,400 cumecs – right on capacity.
“The value of our flood protection systems often go unnoticed simply because they do their job so well. There were some places where the water breached the stop banks in February, which caused damage, but for the most part they proved their worth and kept a huge volume of water where it was meant to be and protected townships across the region,” said Rob Phillips.