Dunedin beaches closed, Highcliff Rd reopened

A section of Highcliff Rd on Otago Peninsula has reopened after being blocked by a slip during Tuesday night’s torrential downpour.

However, the rest of Dunedin appeared to have largely dodged the worst of the weather-related damage and disruption, the Dunedin City Council said.

That was despite a warning for residents to stay out of the water at popular beaches and in Otago Harbour until 2am tomorrow, after partially treated wastewater was discharged into the sea during the worst of the deluge.

DCC controller Sandy Graham said heavy rain had forced council staff to release the partially treated wastewater into the sea from the Lawyers Head outfall on Tuesday night, to reduce the risk of flooding in South Dunedin.

The Tahuna wastewater treatment plant had received a ‘‘significant’’ volume of stormwater and wastewater, and releasing it into the sea partially treated did raise possible health risks, she said.

As a result, swimmers, surfers and shellfish gatherers were urged to avoid the water around Lawyer’s Head, St Clair, St Kilda, Tomahawk and Smaills beaches, as well as Otago Harbour, until 2am tomorrow.

Elsewhere, the city had been lucky to escape with only minor weather-related damage, DCC transport delivery manager Josh von Pein said.

A slip had come down on Highcliff Rd, between Portobello and Pukehiki, about 8pm on Tuesday.

A member of the public raised the alarm and the road was closed by police and DCC contractors.

The site was assessed yesterday morning and deemed safe for contractors, who cleared most debris and reopened the road to traffic about noon, Mr von Pein said.

Additional tidying-up work was expected to be finished by Friday, he added.

Nine people also chose to take up an offer by the DCC of emergency accommodation at Aquinas College, after the wild weather disrupted plans for their journeys home.

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