Canterbury council buys wetland for $2.25m


A major wetland has been bought by Hurunui District Council to provide flood protection for the Amberley and Amberley Beach communities.

The wetland takes up a large part of an 89.3ha block of bare land to the north of Amberley, which the council bought for $2.25 million.

Hurunui Mayor Marie Black says the remaining productive land outside of the wetland area could be subdivided or sold with the proceeds offsetting the purchase price.

She says the wetland will divert flood water away from the Eastern Drain.

‘‘The wetland is a crucial component of the Amberley stormwater plan that was developed after the 2008 floods,’’ she says.

Amberley and Amberley Beach experienced widespread flooding in 2008, as a result of a 1-in-50 year rainfall event.

With the ground saturated, the event was then closely followed by a 1-in-25 year event, causing additional problems, Mrs Black says.

‘‘The wetland will operate as a reservoir for waters diverted from the Eastern Drain, and provide additional flood protection for the east side of Amberley and the Amberley Beach area,’’ she says.

The council has engaged with Environment Canterbury to plan the future of the wetland, its enhancement, and its possible development as a visitor attraction.

‘‘We will be working closely with ECan on the diversion of the flood waters to ensure it meets regulatory requirements.’’

The land is commonly known as Amberley swamp and was of interest to ECan, Mrs Black says.

She stresses the primary reason for buying the bare land is to divert flood water away from Amberley and Amberley Beach.

District council’s chief operating officer Dan Harris says the 2008 flooding was largely caused by excessive inflows to Amberley’s Eastern Drain, causing flooding to the eastern side of Amberley.

This then flowed down into the Amberley Beach area.