Drainage limits damage

The estimated $1.6 million repair bill to fix a host of flooded roads in the Waitaki district is not as bad as expected.

Waitaki District Council roading manager Michael Voss said the area had been hit by floods last August. Although it took six months to repair the damage that time, since then, investment in better drainage systems had resulted in a ''significant win'' for the council and road users this time around.

About 70 roads were closed at the height of the flooding two weeks ago, but only 18 remained off-limits yesterday.

Last year, the council paid out $700,000 to repair flood damage, but Mr Voss said a ''crude estimation'' put the clean-up bill for the latest floods at about $1.6 million.

''Originally, we thought it would be a lot worse, but that may not be the case.

''One subtle difference in the flooding this year is that the water didn't have the velocity that it had previously.

''Certainly, our extensive drainage improvement undertaken on the network and improved construction techniques of unsealed roads in particular [using the walk and roll method] has allowed the surface flooding not to damage the roads as much.

''We identified that drainage was an issue and we have been working on that one.''

However, not all the damage was visible at this stage, and more under-slips, especially around snow-covered areas in Macraes, were expected, he said.

Up-to-date information on road closures was available on the council website.

A large part of the repair bill was expected to go towards replacing the Danseys Pass bridge, which was destroyed after about 160mm of rain fell in the space of three days.

He added that a design for a new single-span replacement bridge was already under way, and a temporary bridge would also be prepared.

''We are looking at installing a Bailey bridge . . . because we recognise that anything we do there needs to have light vehicle access.''

Waitaki Civil Defence emergency services manager Chris Raine urged people to remain wary of fluctuating river levels brought on by snow melt.

''Rivers are currently fluctuating dependent on the amount of freezing and thawing occurring with the snow on the mountains from which our streams and rivers originate.''

-andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz

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