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Flood protection works in the Water of Leith could begin as early as next month on a stretch of the river in the Dunedin Botanic Garden as approval is sought for an alternate sequence of work.
The Otago Regional Council announced in July that it would consider completing individual sections of flood hazard work on the Leith and Lindsay Creek, beginning with excavation work on the true right side of the Leith channel in the Cumberland to Dundas St reach in 2010-11 and completing work on the "stilling basin" at the end of the high velocity channel.
At a meeting of the engineering and hazards committee today, councillors will be asked to alter the sequence of the work to make the main priority in the coming year the completion of channel widening to the left bank of the Leith from Brook St to Gore Pl.
Engineering manager Ramon Strong said in a report to be considered by the committee today investigations had identified it would be preferable to give priority to the excavation of the true-left channel within the Botanic Garden as there was a "critical time constraint".
"Detailed design is nearing completion for those works and approval is sought to commence those works shortly."
As it was mainly students who used the walkway along the Leith and who lived in the rental accommodation along that stretch, summer, when most left the area, was considered the best time to undertake the works, he said.
However, as many of the plants from the excavation area along the left bank and creating a stilling basin immediately below Cumberland St required transplanting, it would be done next winter, giving the plants the best chance of survival.
The left bank widening between Brook St and Gore Pl would involve tree felling and vegetation clearance, footpath construction and the excavation of about 7000cu m over a 300m of river bank.
Staff were working towards felling the larger trees in the excavation area in December and undertaking earthworks in January and February.
Detailed consultation had been held with botanic garden staff, Mr Strong said.
Resource consents gained in 2008 permitted the works to take place and the estimated cost of the lower left bank work was estimated to be $450,000, with the budget allocated for the year being $560,000.