Council will investigate stormwater runoff at Rose Brady and Sarah Lewis’ Russell St homes after they complained about potential land slips. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Stormwater storm brewing

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The state of the city’s stormwater problems have been laid bare by desperate residents asking the Nelson City Council to do something to alleviate the rising tide of flood-related issues.

Everyone from kindergartens, homeowners and businesses have asked the council to help solve issues, some which have been going on for years.

Last week the Nelson Weekly reported on one such group of residents who feared the next big rainfall would wash away the land behind their properties on Russell St. However, a swathe of other submissions to the council’s Long Term Plan reveal the problem is widely felt and acute.

A council report into the state of the city’s infrastructure estimates the cost of solving the city’s piped water issues will cost more than $300m over the next 30 years. The infrastructure strategy report outlines some of the longer term issues related to the city’s outdated stormwater and wastewater network. But residents from across Nelson want action now.

“In the winter of 2000 a failure developed on the slope above my property during high rainfalls,” says Megan Gordon, who lives next to Bolwell Reserve in Enner Glynn. “This occurred again in 2014 and this year it has occurred twice.”

She says the total saturation of this superficial layer has caused the moisture held in suspension to seep below her concrete foundation and flood the lower floor bedroom/office.

“Our insurance company has advised us it will not cover us in the advent of this re-occurring until the cause has been rectified,” Megan says. “This is an urgent call for qualified geotechnical engineers to address this issue as the multiple phone calls and requests to NCC for site visits has had a poor response.”

Council says that it is likely to be a private property issue but will still investigate surface storm water flows from the reserve.

Staff will also look at issues related to the Russell St properties for similar concerns.
Members of Rutherford Street Kindergarten were also concerned about flooding which might affect the ability of children to attend the soon to be reopened building. Earlier this year heavy rain caused an overflow in the sewerage system which flooded the kindergarten while they were painting and building.

“I am very concerned that his might happen in the future,” says board member Venus Sood.

Karen Price of Tipahi St says there is no stormwater system in their street – it just runs down the road causing flooding to several properties. In winter that water becomes a hazard as it freezes – causing issues for pedestrians and motorists.

“Come on NCC, collectively our street has paid plenty of rates I the last 16 years while we’ve waited to see some action on our street,” Karen says. “While it’s always fun paying for storm water services we don’t actually have, isn’t it time that our area was given a little bit more than just promises?”

Council said that it had to “appropriately prioritise” its spending and many streets did not had a reticulated storm water network in place.

In response to the city’s stormwater issues, council’s infrastructure manager Alec Louverdis said in the Long Term Plan 2018-28, due to be adopted next month, council allocated a total of $55m over ten years for stormwater upgrades and improvements.

“While we will still be seeking short term solutions when possible, these projects and programmes will see the number and extent of stormwater issues across the city greatly reduced in the longer term.”