Activist seniors 'fearful' of village flooding and QLDC inaction

by Lauren Pattemore - Jul 12, 2023

Wānaka Retirement Village residents are urging the council to solve the stormwater problem at nearby Bullock Creek, fearing potential flooding could destroy their homes and possessions.

The petition, signed by 28 residents of the village, part of the Alpha Series subdivision, is written to show their “strong objection" to the Queenstown Lakes District Council's deferral of a stormwater fix in their neighbourhood.

The petition was received by the council on June 28, and mentioned briefly as having been received at the last full meeting of the council the following day. However, the residents have not yet received any response from the QLDC.

According to residents recent rainfall caused a nearby stormwater storage pond to overflow and inundate the ground adjacent to the retirement village.  

Meanwhile, when it doesn't rain they say the pond is stagnant, full of sludge and reeds – they're calling it a health and safety hazard. 

Mary Gray, who spearheaded the petition, says there is “grave concern” in the village about what could happen to their homes and possessions if Wānaka was to have a weather event comparable to those experienced further north. 

“Given the recent floods in the North Island this year, and the inability of the Bullock Creek wetland to absorb an unrelenting, huge rainfall, we are fearful for the consequences a major storm could have on our village,” the petition says.

The petition refers to Parklane Retirement Village in Auckland, where the rains had “devastating” consequences, with residents losing “precious possessions” and homes being destroyed. 

The petition calls on the council to take three actions - remove the water and sludge gathering in the pond to an off-site location, so the pond is ready to hold excess stormwater, and create a flood management plan for the wetland reserve plus another plan for deferring stormwater from the subdivision. 

The letter sent to the council and the Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board with the petition says the residents are looking forward to a response from both entities. 

Residents have heard back already from the community board, with the gang invited to present at their next meeting, which Ms Gray says it is their intention to do.

However, it’s been two weeks since the petition was received by the council, and the residents have received no acknowledgement from them of it.

There was a stormwater plan for Bullock Creek, but it came onto the chopping block during Annual Plan budget cuts, potentially shelved until 2030.

The plan was to install a pipe from the subdivision’s holding pond and direct the overflow stormwater through to a not-yet-developed soak wetland at the A&P showgrounds, costing $6 million all up.

Two other community groups spoke against deferring the project at the hearing for the 2023/24 annual plan

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