22 Jul 2016

West Coast sewerage lines threatened by weather, erosion

1:59 pm on 22 July 2016

The heavy weather forecast to hit much of the country this weekend has the West Coast once more on high alert for erosion.

Punakaiki on the West Coast

Punakaiki on the West Coast Photo: wiki commons

The manager of Punakaiki Beach Camp said the line of erosion that threatened the camp was now too close for comfort.

Craig Findlay said a single large severe event could take out the nearby sewerage infrastructure which would close the camp immediately.

"Once that goes, the camp's closed and the council would have to re-instate that, and that's in excess of $100,000," he said.

Mr Findlay said the land has been retreating by up to 1m with each large storm, and while sandbagging had provided temporary relief, extending an existing seawall was now essential.

"The situation is, it's continuing to erode at a steady rate. It could happen at once with a severe sea event, and we're looking at huge swells this weekend," he said.

MetService warned Buller and Westland could expect 200mm of rain over 24 hours from midday tomorrow, which could cause rivers and streams to rise rapidly.

Buller District Council, which owns Punakaiki Beach Camp and leases the business, recently called for volunteers to help sandbag a 150m stretch of coastline immediately in front of the site.

Mr Findlay said that as landowner, Buller council was party to the West Coast Regional Council special rating system for land protection.

He was pleased with steps the regional council had taken, but Buller had not been as swift to act as it waited for the regional council to step in.

Buller District Council agreed at a meeting this week to set up a committee to focus on the matter. Three councillors and two staff members would work with Punakaiki ratepayers, the campsite lessee and the regional council to develop a "prompt and thorough understanding" of the problem and costs involved.

"I'm hoping for a resolution as to a way forward for us both," Mr Findlay said.

MetService also forecast up to 80mm of rain for the Nelson ranges and northwest Marlborough over 6 hours from tomorrow evening.

Wind gusts of up to 140km/h or more were expected in exposed parts of Fiordland and Southland in the morning, and severe gales were also forecast for Marlborough Sounds, Wellington, Wairarapa, and from Kāpiti to Taranaki.

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