Leaking pipe alleged as cause of flooding

A former Waitaki District Council deputy mayor says a leaking water pipeline is "compounding the problem" that has left Station Rd, near Totara, under caution for flooding for much of the winter.

But the council's assets group manager has rejected the claim.

Above-average rainfall in Waitaki this year, and a blocked culvert under nearby State Highway 1, had caused a natural "stranded wetland system" to run over Station Rd, and earlier this month the Otago Daily Times reported the NZ Transport Agency had plans to install two culverts - initially a small one, and when water levels permitted a larger one - under the highway to relieve the situation on the council-owned road.

But Pam Spite, who lives overlooking the pond, said the council's underground pipes were leaking - one in a road reserve next to her property, and another that ran through a paddock on her lifestyle block that "just keeps bursting".

"Whatever they do, it doesn't last," Mrs Spite said.

"A decent bit of plumbing might be what's required."

Neil Jorgensen said he knew of one leak the council had been called to fix recently, but the pipe itself that ran through Mrs Spite's property was simply not large enough to cause the flooding.

"It would be great if the ponding was caused by a water leak and that by fixing it would lower the level of pond," he said.

"Unfortunately, this is not the case and the ponding is in a low spot, albeit with a State Highway through it. We believe that this pond system is linked to some groundwater that has previously caused ponding at Springfield and Fortification Rds. The area has had significant rainfall over the last few years and the resulting high groundwater levels and ground runoff, from the rain, mean that these ponds are at quite a high level."

He said the pipe in question was a 25mm pipe that connected to 11 tanks "and if there's a leak, any sort of significant leak ... if there was something that bubbles up, people would be out of water almost immediately - so, they get picked up really fast, especially these-size pipes."

While Mrs Spite disagreed with Mr Jorgensen's assessment of the cause of the flooding, she said the contractor who had raised the level of the road to raise it higher than the flooded wetland had done "a very good job of it" on August 13.

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