Propped open valve floods part of Edgecumbe – claim

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OPEN: This flapper valve was propped open before the flood water rose and was still open when this photo was taken on Tuesday. Photo Louis Klaassen D5207-1

A PROPPED-open valve to a culvert on the southwest side of Edgecumbe is being blamed by some neighbouring residents for undermining efforts to pump the water out.

The stop bank between a farm owned by Corrie and Donna Smit and the neighbourhood was meant to stop flood water from the western Rangitaiki Plain from entering the neighbourhood.

Totara Street resident Adrian Spackman said he saw water flowing from the area of the stop bank’s culvert into the neighbourhood the night before the flood.

“In the morning, we had flooding even before the breach (at the College Road stop bank),” he said.

When he investigated later, he saw that the culvert’s flapper valve was propped open.

Mr Smit said he believed blocking the flapper valve open did not affect the result because the water rose so high it topped the stop bank anyway.

“That stop bank was breached as well, the water went over that,” he said.

“So, it wouldn’t have made any difference.”

He said it seemed clear to him that the flood drain was the problem.

“That floodway should be a lot lower. It would put a lot less pressure on the stop bank,” he said.

Totara Road resident Debbie Edwards agreed the area was prone to flooding. After the 2004 flood, Bay of Plenty Regional Council dug out the reserve behind Matai Street to allow for more water to pool.

Whenever the water rises to the point where the drain fills up, the situation becomes complicated – especially if the flapper valve is left open, said Mrs Edwards.

“That means the farmland has quite a bit of water as well and we normally end up worse because the pumps will take the road water away but the farmland water then (refills) in on us,” she said.

Her house has flooded twice over the last 32 years. But each time there was heavy rain, water pooled and threatened the houses. If the regional council had not paid to have her house raised in 2004 it would have flooded again this time, she said.

She said she knew the water that flooded the neighbourhood in the recent flood came from the Smits' property because of what she called the “milk shake and champagne” colours of the water.

Water from the College Road stop bank breach was muddy or milkshake-coloured. Water that flooded the Totara Street properties was clear or champagne-coloured indicating it was pooled water from the Smit farm, she said.

Resident Helen Morris said the flood recovery effort had been slowed because the culvert had been left open, even though the stop bank had been topped.

“I think it actually slowed down the drainage of the residential area. They had a tractor there and it was pumping water out of the residential area. It was just going around in circles,” she said.

mark.rieder@whakatanebeacon.co.nz