University's master plan impacts on flood scheme

The University of Otago's master plan is forcing the Otago Regional Council to look at alternative approaches to its Leith-Lindsay flood protection scheme.

While the master plan or 20-year vision for the campus was only a concept, it potentially provided "opportunities and threats" to the multimillion-dollar scheme for which the council already had resource consents and designs, environmental engineering and natural hazards director Gavin Palmer said at a committee meeting yesterday.

The council's flood scheme included amenity works on the Water of Leith between the St David St footbridge and Clyde St, which were agreed with the university in 2006.

In 2007, the university agreed to jointly promote the scheme. However, the master plan proposed works that differed from the scheme, Dr Palmer said.

Some were advantageous to the scheme, others were in conflict, so talks with the university on the implications of the master plan were recommended.

Any changes to scheme works arising from the master plan might require detailed investigations and possibly new resource consents, he said.

"This has cost implications for flood mitigation works which should not necessarily be borne by the Leith-Lindsay flood protection scheme."

While the university's master plan proposal to demolish the ITS building, which straddles the Leith, was "desirable" for flood hazard mitigation, the timeframe was uncertain.

"The further into the future this is planned for, the more it creates issues for council, in terms of how the interim flood risk can be managed."

The master plan also proposed further buildings and more people within the flood hazard area, he said.

"The works ... therefore implicitly depend on the scheme for flood mitigation."

As a result of the plan, the council was identifying alternative approaches to the implementation of the scheme, Dr Palmer said.

In the immediate term, the council could proceed with excavation work on the true-right side of the channel in the Cumberland St to Dundas St reach of the Leith in the 2010-11 year and complete work on the "stilling basin" at the end of the high velocity channel.

Cr Louise Croot said a practical way forward needed to be found.

"We need to try and get some decision out of the university or this could become a long-term issue."


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