Environment Southland owns and maintains more than 450 kilometres of stop banks across the region to protect people, property and livelihoods. Our assets include:
- stopbanks and earthworks
- detention dams
- large culverts
- tidegate structures
With flooding an ever-present risk, Environment Southland has a long-term programme to maintain and improve the flood protection schemes that protect people, property and livelihoods.
The schemes have enhanced the experience of people living and working in Murihiku Southland by providing a level of security in the face of potentially devastating flooding effects. In urban areas they protect homes, businesses and infrastructure, while the rural schemes protect the land and property outside the stop banks.
Mataura River stop banks
Climate resilience projects
What happens when rivers rise
Environment Southland's role
Environment Southland monitors rivers across the region, and part of what we measure is water level and flow volumes. Sometimes after snow melt or heavy rain, rivers can rise higher than usual. When they reach a certain trigger point, we notify Southlanders so they can take precautions if they live in affected areas. We post a 'flood alert' on our Facebook page, and in cases where it looks like the water may get particularly high, we also send out a warning message via a radio broadcast. Follow us on Facebook, and enable priority notifications from our page to ensure your receive flood alerts. Find out more about flood warnings on this page.
Emergency Management Southland's role
When it's looking likely that rivers may breach stop banks or threaten lives and property, Emergency Management Southland steps in to provide an emergency response on behalf of the four southern councils. Follow Emergency Management Southland's Facebook page to receive up-to-date information about hazards, and to receive official and trusted information during a declared emergency.
A quick story about our stop banks
During the February 2020 flooding, there was a dedicated team of Environment Southland staff with many years of knowledge and expertise to provide the valuable information needed. Our stop banks did their job, holding the water and protecting the townships. Read the full Envirosouth story here.
- The Southland Flood Control and Drainage Management Bylaw 2020 aims to manage and protect the integrity of Environment Southland’s assets like stop banks, detention dams, bridges, culverts and tide gate structures which all assist in controlling flooding and protecting our communities.
- The 2018-2048 Infrastructure Strategy forms a comprehensive overview of the current state of the infrastructure assets managed by Environment Southland, and their future outlook.
View our natural hazards map to see Southland's significant flood plains, tsunami evacuation zones, historic flood photo points, shaking amplification, liquefaction risks, and to find out where our dams and stop banks are.
View drone footage of the Waihopai River after heavy rainfall in October 2020. The stop banks and the dam are doing their job holding back the floodwater and letting it through slowly.
Below is a video from 1984 about the devastating floods that struck Invercargill and western Southland.