Leith flood protection priority call

An Otago Regional Council committee yesterday recommended first priority be given to Water of Leith flood protection work, costing $38.3 million, within the mooted overall Leith-Lindsay flood protection scheme.

The regional council will consider the matter further at its next full meeting on June 22.

The overall Leith-Lindsay flood protection proposal had involved producing revised cost estimates, and offered four options.

Those considered yesterday by the council's finance and corporate committee, were. -

Option 1: Complete all scheme works, including involving Lindsay Creek, a tributary of the Water of Leith, in Northeast Valley, at the revised cost of $59.3 million.

Option 2: Complete all scheme works at the revised costs, but only if the Crown made a contribution in respect of Crown non-rateable properties.

Option 3: Complete only the Water of Leith component of the scheme at $38.3 million.

Option 4: Complete only the Water of Leith component at the revised cost, but only if a contribution was made by the Crown over its non-rateable properties.

The council's finance and corporate committee, chaired by Cr Duncan Butcher, yesterday backed an earlier hearing committee recommendation that the council support Option 3, with a view to still pursuing a Crown contribution.

Under Option 3, ratepayers in the Lindsay Creek area would revert from being Direct Benefit Zone ratepayers to Indirect Benefit Zone ratepayers.

Also supported yesterday was a hearing committee recommendation that the scope of any future mitigation options for the Lindsay Creek area be investigated with a view to including any associated works in the council's Draft 2012-2022 Long-term Plan for further community consultation.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the council had twice consulted the public over the proposed flood protection works - once in 2004, and again more recently.

After an earlier cost blow-out, the council had undertaken value engineering work and had gone back to the community with revised costings.

In all its considerations, including at the committee yesterday, the council had been concerned to balance countering flood risk and the ability to pay.

"I'm happy that it looks like we've got a scheme that the community is able to fund," he said in an interview.

The Water of Leith's flood risk was sometimes underestimated, but flooding posed significant risks to Dunedin, including to Crown assets such as the University of Otago, the Otago Polytechnic, nearby road and rail links, and even, potentially, Dunedin Hospital.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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