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Several lakefront Wanaka businesses that had managed to keep operating despite flood risk preparations were forced to close their doors yesterday afternoon when their sewerage connection was cut.
Queenstown Lakes District emergency management officer Trevor Andrews said the council made the decision to shut down the sewer as a precautionary measure to mitigate the potential for sewage to enter and contaminate the lake.
The sewer system shutdown came into effect about 5pm yesterday and affected buildings in Ardmore St, in Wanaka, running from the Speight’s Ale House through to the corner of Ardmore and Dungarvon Sts.
Speight’s Ale House duty manager Adam Donovan said they usually traded a lot of food in the evenings and had very busy lunches but they were particularly busy yesterday because many cafes and restaurants had closed early.
He said they were one of the highest properties along the lake front and were usually one of the last to be affected by flooding.
Having to shut because of the sewerage system being cut was "a bit of a setback but it is not anything we can control and everyone is just taking the best precautions possible really", he said.
Relishes cafe owner Tasha Wadeson said she had been looking at the ORC website, checking the lake levels and the river flow volumes coming in, and then judging from there whether to open or not."So far we have been opening and then shutting at 4pm.
"We were going to continue doing that and probably open nights again but unfortunately the sewerage has been shut off so we are unable to operate.
"We could maybe have got some Portaloos in but the road has also been shut," she said.
A section of Ardmore St between McDougall St and Lakeside Rd was closed early yesterday and the whole CBD was reduced to a 30kmh speed limit because of flooding.
More heavy rain was expected near the headwaters of Otago's lakes and rivers between 9am yesterday and 8am tomorrow.
At 3pm yesterday, Lake Wanaka was at 279.9m but Otago Regional Council modelling had estimated it would reach a level of 280.3 to 280.5m by late in the weekend.
ORC spokesman Ryan Tippet said there was also "a low confidence prediction", meaning a slim chance, the level
could reach 280.7m.
He said at 3pm yesterday Lake Wakatipu was at 311.2m and it was predicted to reach a level of 311.4m by Sunday afternoon — 0.1m above the level where flooding of the Queenstown stormwater system was a possibility.
"The lake begins to overtop into lower lying parts of the Glenorchy Waterfront Reserve at a level of 311m," he said.
Mr Andrews spent yesterday afternoon monitoring lake levels at Kingston and liaising with residents and businesses in Glenorchy.
Council had made sandbags available at Wanaka, Queenstown, Glenorchy and Kingston yesterday.
"We can’t be complacent.
"We are asking the communities to keep aware and be patient and to do what they are doing which is being pro-active," he said.