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Ashburton Town Stopbanking Completed

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

10 September 2008 - The Mayor of Ashburton, Bede O'Malley was today presented with a certificate celebrating the completion of the $2.1m Ashburton Town Stopbanking project.

Cr Angus McKay, representing Environment Canterbury and the people of Ashburton, through his Rakaia constituency, presented Mayor O'Malley with the document signifying the completion of the stopbank upgrade work along the Ashburton River.

A delighted Mayor O'Malley said he was lost for words. "I wasn't expecting this to happen until March next year. This is very much appreciated, and I want to acknowledge the co-operation and work of Environment Canterbury staff in the successful outcome. It's a brilliant example of how we can all work together."

Mayor O'Malley said the stopbank which looked "brilliant" from the town's point of view, was the issue which had propelled him into local body politics.

The four-year project spans a total length of 11kms and was developed to improve the level of flood protection for Ashburton and its rural margins. The stopbank is constructed of river gravel covered by a grassed silt veneer and protected by the planting of hundreds of willow trees.

The design standard is for containment of the 200 year return period flood flow and the stopbank height is up to 2.5m.

The project first emerged after the 1986 floods in South Canterbury, when a working party of Environment Canterbury and the Ashburton District Council formed a community advisory group. Intensive consultation occurred before the first stage of the work - from Trevors Rd to Williams St and Melrose Rd to Range Rd on the main river stem - took place during the 2004-05 construction season.

The second stage consisted of work on the north branch from Digbys Bridge to Smythes Rd and the third, which was completed during the 2006-07 construction season and has just been signed off, extends along the north branch from Wakelins Rd to Digbys Bridge including Jessep's Bend.

"As always it has been great working with the people that could be most affected, to work through the different scenarios to achieve the affordable protection solution they asked for," Cr Angus McKay said. "I hope it is never tested - as other areas of New Zealand have been sorely tested this winter, because rivers do have a life of their own."

Tony Boyle, ECan project leader for the design and consenting processes, said the work had been completed on target. "The relationships with the landowners were good throughout, and at the end of the day the general environment has been enhanced by the works. It looks good, fulfills its purpose and now enables the whole of the Ashburton area to develop in a sustainable manner."

Ian Heslop, ECan's design and operations engineer for the project, said he was very pleased with the stopbank's grass cover and stability, and expected it to perform well in protecting existing and new town development.

"There are subdivision projects which have had to wait until this has been completed, and they will now be able to proceed."

Work on flood protection for Tinwald is continuing with the planned construction of stopbanks further upstream on the south branch of the Ashburton River at Valetta.

Resource consent hearings for this work are expected to be held later this year.

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