[bad news] St Clair seawall #FAIL

Comment received from Stu.
2013/05/26 at 7:29 pm

St Clair sea wall compromised? Webcam image refreshes every 1 minute.


Tweet to @whatifdunedin from @lowercasewriter.

Tweet @lowercasewriter 26.5.13


Related Post and Comments:
28.11.11 St Clair seawall and beach access

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Construction, DCC, Design, IPENZ, Project management, Property, Site, Urban design

140 responses to “[bad news] St Clair seawall #FAIL

  1. ### ch9.co.nz May 27, 2013 – 6:42pm
    Erosion damage set to cost hundreds of thousands
    Erosion of the St Clair Esplanade looks set to cost ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair bills. An assessment team were on site this morning and the council says the source of the breach needs to be plugged as soon as possible. But with swells of more than two metres predicted, it remains unknown whether or not the work can be carried out in time.

    • ### 3news.co.nz Mon, 27 May 2013 2:31p.m.
      PHOTOS: Sinkholes open in Dunedin waterfront
      By Thomas Mead – Online Reporter
      Several large sinkholes have opened up on a popular Dunedin waterfront, swallowing a seat and forcing officials to cordon off the area. A section of the St Clair Esplanade was shut yesterday afternoon after parts of the walkway dropped into the sea. Dunedin City Council transportation operations manager Graeme Hamilton says an unusually high tide has caused washout of sand fill beneath the Esplanade. “It looks as if there’s been water penetration from the ocean that has penetrated above the wall,” he says. “There’s been a significant washout of sand with these high tides. Probably a metre of sand has been lost in the last few days.”
      Read more + Video + Photos

      Sinkhole. Facebook, James Coombes 27.5.13 (3news.co.nz)Sinkhole. Facebook/James Coombes 27.5.13 (via 3news)

      • ### ODT Online Tue, 28 May 2013
        Esplanade repairs ‘won’t be cheap’
        By Debbie Porteous
        Repairing the hole under the sea wall that caused large sinkholes to appear in the Esplanade at St Clair is set to hit ratepayers in the pocket. But just how hard is yet to be worked out. Contractors worked into last night, around the 10.30pm low tide to try to plug a gap under the St Clair sea wall. The gap appeared when spring tides in the past few days carried away more than 1m of sand from the beach in 24 hours. This exposed the bottom of the sea wall in front of the South Coast Board Riders Association clubrooms. Water then sucked sand and soil fill from behind an original wall about a metre behind the existing sea wall, creating sinkholes in the walkway either side of the St Clair Surf Life Saving Club’s rescue boat launch ramp. The holes continued to grow in size yesterday, spreading north.
        Dunedin City Council network maintenance engineer Peter Standring said a preliminary examination revealed no other obvious places where water was getting under the wall. Its integrity appeared to be intact. However, engineers would make a more extensive assessment of the wall and its anchors, which reach 6m back into earth. While a long-term solution would need to be considered, the immediate focus was on blocking the gap to stop more of the paved area caving in. Council contractors were to begin inserting sheet piling under the ramp at low tide last night, completing the job at low tide this morning. The main area affected was in front of the Board Riders club rooms around the ramp.
        Read more

        St Clair Esplanade ODT 28.5.13 (1)
        Two large sinkholes created when the Esplanade at St Clair was undermined after the sea gouged a hole under the seawall. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery [ODT Files]

        St Clair seawall, diggers at work ODT 28.5.13 (1)
        Two diggers begin pushing rock to secure the exposed toe of a concrete panel of the St Clair seawall late last night. Low tide allowed Fulton Hogan contractors to begin work at 10pm, with more work possible at the beach this morning.
        Photographer not identified [ODT Files]


        Waves smashing into the wall could now be felt as vibrations through buildings in the area, making it hard for people living and working there.

        ### ODT Online Tue, 28 May 2013
        Esplanade holes not a surprise
        By Debbie Porteous
        Large holes appearing in the Esplanade at St Clair come as no surprise to Dunedin’s surfers. They say St Clair Beach’s sand has been disappearing consistently since the southern end of the beach was reshaped and a new sea wall of precast concrete panels was erected in front of an existing wall in 2004.

        ”It’s a white elephant, that wall, and it’s going to cost a fortune.”

        Surfers and residents said the wave and water-movement patterns since the new wall was constructed meant that sand washed away from the clubrooms end of the wall in bad weather was unable to resettle there in any quantity.
        Read more

  2. Peter

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to know the university qualifications/years of experience of the people who brought on this mammoth sea wall stuff up?
    Could they erect an outdoor dunny without any mishaps?

  3. Calvin Oaten

    I seem to remember when the new wall was first designed, it was proposed that the beach would be excavated down to a basalt bedrock, it would be chiseled into a groove for the panels to be inserted and grouted in place . That was to lock them firmly. As a cost saving measure it was decided to just sit the panels on the raw basalt and to hit where they touched. Result. The panels are free to swing according to the forces applied. And that is exactly what is happening now, breaking any seal that there might have been between the sea and the back of the wall. It was set to fail from the get go, just another example of a lack of oversight from within the DCC building. Consultants read their client’s minds and assess the limits of the financial rewards that they can extract for their shareholders. In this case the minds took about two minutes to read. I wager that this debacle would never have happened if city engineer Armstrong had his department design and execute the project. Again we pay the price for the actions of administrators selling us out to the consultants and independent contractors. Even now we are beholden to them with this event. Watch the costs elevate as they all toss in their pennies’ worth of suggestions as to how to repair the damage. A veritable feast laid out for them. And we, the ratepayers will be quietly taken to the cleaners.

  4. Hype O'Thermia

    Hot diggety, ratepayers are in for massive costs and the designers, contractors, get to sit around playing angry birds.
    Should have got it done by minor offenders on community service in the first place. I’m not saying it would have been better, but – know what I mean?

  5. Anonymous

    I just don’t know which issue is more crazier at the moment. What with The Lawyer and his passive threats; a Stadium Councillor’s longing to spend hundreds of thousands on old wood; that council guy’s dipshit comments ‘what-hole-oh-THAT-hole’ and the ODT’s ‘oh-that’s-going-to-cost’ reporting; oh bugger it – just almost any council reporting from it; the limp-wristed OAG; rich pricks taking everybody for a ride;… the whole bloody place seems to have gone bat-shit crazy.

    The finances are buggered – the esplanade failing will show that and the Mayor and corrupt councillors will run to the wall, flapping their arms, blamestorming, delaying, spending money everywhere and anywhere, except where it’s required.

    Why can’t people just do their bloody job? Even better, do their job and do it properly?

  6. Rob Hamlin

    I think that McPravda’s information management and stakeholder protection via editorial confidentiality systems have been overloaded by this manifest and unspinnable failure. The result is ‘white noise gibberish’. Let’s look at today’s attempt to plug the information leaks:

    Statement 1

    “The gap appeared when spring tides in the past few days carried away more than 1m of sand from the beach in 24 hours.”

    Statement 2

    “This exposed the bottom of the sea wall in front of the South Coast Board Riders Association clubrooms.”

    Statement 3

    “However, engineers would make a more extensive assessment of the wall and its anchors, which reach 6m back into earth.”

    The existence of these three statements in the same argument is both a mathematical and logical impossibility 6-1 = 5, not zero or – 0.5.

    Statement 4

    “Dunedin City Council network maintenance engineer Peter Standring said a preliminary examination revealed no other obvious places where water was getting under the wall. Its integrity appeared to be intact.”

    My rear bicycle tire has only one small hole in it. Does this mean that I can advertise it on Trademe with a description that its ‘rear tire’s integrity is intact’ and that thereby imply that it is in full operational order?

    Statement 5

    “This exposed the bottom of the sea wall in front of the South Coast Board Riders Association clubrooms. Water then sucked sand and soil fill from behind an original wall about a metre behind the existing sea wall, creating sinkholes”

    Now it’s all clear – After getting under the new sea wall, the water presumably teletransported itself a metre inland to behind the second wall without causing any damage to the fill behind the new one? Now we know, it’s all that pesky old wall’s fault. Hooray! You can’t libel the dead, and we can presume that the architects of the old one are now all safely in that category.

  7. Anonymous

    Ian Smith refers to the remedial work in relation to the esplanade repair. Some years back there was discussion about strengthening the dunes as well. It was estimated around $150M. Because this council can’t control its spending and likes to grow the wealth of certain Stakeholders, that figure would have blown out to $450M. But because the city was/is still burdened with councillors who fund vanity projects, instead of essential services and infrastructure, let’s put the cost at $600M. Now let’s get back to the esplanade. And that related remedial work. Might as well throw in the leaky pipes throughout the city too. Then add another $40M for each of the Stakeholders who will benefit from the projects, whether they succeed or fail. Then there’s all the homes and businesses in South Dunedin… the mind boggles.

    To me, this hole is truly representative of what about 20 people have done to this city.

  8. Phil

    This whole mess was compounded by the ridiculous decision by Roading to split up the design phase of the Esplanade rebuild between external consultants and internal DCC staff. A supposed cost saving exercise at the time. Doesn’t look like a lot of cost saving right now. If they had left it clean and simple there would be only one source at fault and only one source to rectify the problem. As it has turned out, the whole thing ended up so murky that blame was being pushed in all directions with no one sure exactly who was responsible for what. End result, the ratepayers pick up the tab. A cheap job with an expensive price tag.

    • ### ch9.co.nz May 28, 2013 – 7:12pm
      Esplanade still closed off
      St Clair Esplanade is still closed off to pedestrians as work to contain the damage to the sea wall is repaired.

      • Last Friday, before the sinkholes appeared…

        ODT 24.5.13 (page 12), Letter to the editor [scanned]

        ODT 24.5.13 (page 12) Letter to the editor [scanned]

        • http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/seawall

          DCC seem unable to get their heads around management of the coastline generally – engineering the solutions will get more and more interesting… DCC v Pacific Ocean, the best game in town.

          [today] Fresh holes appear in Esplanade

        • Dunedin Amenities Society – historical context to the sea wall issue.
          Cogent argument and great images too. Worth reading!

          St Clair Esplanade – When History Repeats
          By daseditor | May 29, 2013
          The recent damage of the sea wall at St Clair Esplanade is a pertinent reminder of the power and ferocity of the ocean and the continuation of an issue that has been prominent in Dunedin since the beginnings of colonial settlement. The extension of physical occupation of coastal areas by people and the development of infrastructure around that occupation has been fraught with problems. Worse still has been the undermining of the important protection afforded to the city by the St Clair and St Kilda beach areas.

          Dunedin’s various local authorities have struggled for the last 140 years to manage the coastal issues at St Clair and St Kilda.

          The first sea wall built at St Clair was in the early 1870s and appears to have been privately built, eventually being transferred to the ownership of the Caversham Borough Council. In 1885 the wall was badly damaged during a period of high seas and the Caversham Borough Council began rebuilding the wall in 1888. As with today there was considerable debate over the merits of the construction by amateur and professional engineers alike.
          Read more

        • Dunedin mayor Dave Cull says the council will do whatever it takes to fix the problem.

          ### RNZ News Updated at 2:36 pm today
          Business owners fear for buildings as sinkholes grow
          Business owners at Dunedin’s St Clair waterfront are beginning to fear for their buildings as sinkholes in the Esplanade continue to grow.
          Read more

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    I saw some time ago why Bob Jones prizes broad education over narrow business-accounting-law degrees when he’s hiring. Those who have no knowledge of history and no breadth of experience are a farking disaster when they get the opportunity to make important decisions. Here’s an oldie that’s worth thinking about, for all that the techlology has changed beyond recognition.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thought on Art, The Dial, I, January 1841

    “….Smeaton built Eddystone lighthouse on the model of an oak tree, as being the form in nature best designed to resist a constant assailing force….”
    “The first and last lesson of the useful arts is, that nature tyrannizes over our works. They must be conformed to her law, or they will be ground to powder by her omnipresent activity. Nothing droll, nothing whimsical will endure. Nature is ever interfering with Art. You cannot build your house or pagoda as you will, but as you must. There is a quick bound set to our caprice. The leaning tower can only lean so far. The verandah or pagoda roof can curve upward only to a certain point. The slope of your roof is determined by the weight of snow. It is only within narrow limits that the discretion of the architect may range. Gravity, wind, sun, rain, the size of men and animals, and such like, have more to say than he. It is the law of fluids that prescribes the shape of the boat,– keel, rudder, and bows, — and, in the finer fluid above, the form and tackle of the sails. Man seems to have no option about his tools, but merely the necessity to learn from Nature what will fit best, as if he were fitting a screw or a door. Beneath a necessity thus almighty, what is artificial in man’s life seems insignificant. He seems to take his task so minutely from intimations of Nature, that his works become as it were hers, and he is no longer free.”

    But if we work within this limit, she yields us all her strength. All powerful action is performed, by bringing the forces of nature to bear upon our objects. We do not grind corn or lift the loom by our own strength, but we build a mill in such a position as to set the north wind to play upon our instrument, or the elastic force of steam, or the ebb and flow of the sea. So in our handiwork, we do few things by muscular force, but we place ourselves in such attitudes as to bring the force of gravity, that is, the weight of the planet, to bear upon the spade or the axe we wield. What is it that gives force to the blow of the axe or crowbar? Is it the muscles of the laborer’s arm, or is it the attraction of the whole globe below it, on the axe or bar? In short, in all our operations we seek not to use our own, but to bring a quite infinite force to bear.”

  10. Calvin Oaten

    Thank you ‘Dased Editor’ for that interesting bit of history. It seems that as far as this city is concerned, the more it changes the more it stays the same. Just why it is that the solution to the St Clair Sea Wall can’t be found is a mystery. It is not as if the same problems haven’t been met elsewhere on the planet. For goodness sakes, how did the Dutch people not only keep their land but over the centuries increased its area by challenging the sea and winning? Surely, it would be a simple exercise to either Google or, more likely send some really qualified people over to investigate and enquire about the technologies that have been developed to meet the challenges. It is patently obvious that the latest ‘consultants’ employed have been woefully qualified to solve the problem. Why is it that these people are so conceited that they won’t simply ask? I am sure the solution is out there if a bit of commonsense was applied to look into it. The oft mentioned ‘Eddystone’ lighthouse is nineteenth century engineering technology which has stood the test of time, yet here we have again the flat, in your face challenge to the elements of this disaster. A repeat of all that has gone before. It was oh so predictable, but still the ‘plonkers’ think that they know best. I guess that is the ‘hallmark’ of a small insular city. Shame really.

    • ### DScene 29 May 2013
      Holey Hell (page 1)
      St Clair Esplanade sinks into the sea, as waves batter Dunedin’s favourite walkway. See page 3.


      St Clair collapse just nature (page 3)
      By Wilma McCorkindale
      Tempestuous seas are undermining areas of the sea wall at Dunedin’s popular St Clair Esplanade, and authorities are scrambling to identify and repair weak points in the wall. Large sink holes appeared in the esplanade outside the St Clair Surf Club headquarters as heavy seas pounded the wall on Monday. Dunedin City Council transportation operations manager Graeme Hamilton yesterday shut public access to the esplanade. The area has been aflow with a constant stream of members of the public taking in the spectacular seas and checking out the damage. Council staff, contractors and engineering consultants moved in to investigate points of entry where the sea penetrated. Hamilton said the problem was ‘‘nothing as flamboyant’’ as the rising sea threatening to break through into the St Clair residential area.
      {continues} #bookmark #bookmark

      • ### ch9.co.nz May 29, 2013 – 8:29pm
        Contractors rush to beat incoming tide
        Work on the St Clair Esplanade wall continued today, as contractors rushed to beat an incoming tide.

  11. amanda

    What about using the $400,000 money used to pay acts to use the fiscally useless stadium ? That could be used to pay for the sinkholes to be fixed. Insert Tui ad here. Got to keep the reputations of “Business Geniuses’ intact. That is so much more important.

  12. Lance

    Question is: Why have councils over the years, including the Chin / Brown council, allowed business development on the St Clair waterfront when it appears that since the 1800s the problem was, and still is, it’s not financially viable to keep fighting the sea. Unlike the Dutch, Calvin, we don’t appear to have a big enough finger to fill this hole.

  13. Phil Cole

    Flood defence is never quite as easy as it sounds! Don’t think the Dutch have solved the problem… they’ve been having a go for over a thousand years and still have problems with floods, but they do have experience of dealing with it and are constantly upgrading their defences… which costs lots of money which Dunedin unfortunately doesn’t have.

    The national government in the Netherlands also take a key role in the subject, unlike in New Zealand and Dunedin hasn’t exactly been ‘flooded’ (pun intended!) with MP’s commenting on the topic – even the local ones have been conspicuous by their absence! Mind you, that’s probably a good thing!

    The Netherlands has suffered terrible floods and will still be prone to more floods and they are already improving their defences to meet expected (reasonable) sea level rises, although the cost of this is prohibitive.

    Yes, the Dutch know what to do and have had plenty of experience in both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ defences. Some work, some don’t and some have to be upgraded or replaced. The English in the 1600s brought Cornelius Vermuyden over from the Netherlands to drain The Fens – an area in Norfolk – using a series of canals, sluices and gates. Very successfully too… but that is another story!

    So what for St Clair and the seafront to Lawyers Head? In the opinion piece (ODT) I wrote on the subject a few years ago I mentioned about the effect on sea walls wave action would have and raised the subject of ‘Managed Retreat’ – not from a ‘Green’ point of view, but from the fact that Dunedin had no money to pay for any effective defences to the natural action of the sea. I was met with the usual derision from most people – even two councillors ‘poo-pooed’ me in the ODT at the Sea Wall hearing – but as I pointed out, ‘Managed Retreat’ is the only solution because of the financial crisis Dunedin is now in (and was in then). Three plus years on… have we seen any action? No…

    As in life, you get what you pay for. If you want something ‘Rolls-Royce’ that will at least last a lot longer than anything built by ‘Joe Bloggs’ then you have to pay for it. Spend little and you get a bad job. Remember the argument about cheap train wagons from China rather than pay more money for New Zealanders to do the work? The same applies to sea defences. If Dunedin wants a serious solution to the problems of sea walls and sea defences it will have to spend big time… but we don’t have any money. I wonder how many Council candidates will bring up the actual problems of the sea defences and how they will solve them….

    {Link added. -Eds}

  14. Calvin Oaten

    Phil; the councillors in this instance will, like as in the past adopt the ‘three monkey stance’. “Sea wall? What sea wall? Oh is that where I go for my Sunday latte’ ?” ” I don’t know anything about a sea wall, that is what we pay consultants to look after isn’t it?” “Please, don’t expect me to study any of these things, I only stood for council so I could improve the citizens’ lot.” “The fact that I don’t have a clue is nothing to do with it, and anyway I live in Middlemarch, miles away from the sea.”

  15. Whippet

    Calvin. Beware sharks have been sighted in Middlemarch, they only look different from the ones at St Clair.

  16. Peter

    Thanks for your comment, Phil, on the Dutch situation. Helps put some historical perspective into the equation and to know about the experience of others.
    As Calvin amusedly put it, there is likely to be a ‘patch and pray’ approach. With thanks to most of our councillors, they have left the kitty bare for such ‘unforeseen’ eventualities.

  17. In November 2011 the Society submitted on the planned erosion control programme for Ocean Beach erosion plan. On behalf of the Society I wrote the following;

    Land use and changes in environmental consciousness combined with better geophysical understanding must be made to implement a long term strategic plan that halts the decline in the coastal environment of Ocean Beach Domain. The shift of consciousness must accompany a paradigm shift in recreational and social patterns that should not be looked at in isolation to the use of Ocean Beach Domain, but discussed and consulted at a wider strategic level for the entire city. Ephemeral construction, ad hoc reaction to sporadic events and short term planning needs to be abandoned in favour of long term planning for physical, social and environmental change.

    The Society’s submission raised the issue of “setbacks” and retreat during the submission process. The full submission is available on our website. http://wp.me/pv7k2-n6

  18. amanda

    Well that’s good news that the DCC is ‘happy’ that the sinkhole is contained. Good to see they are unconcerned about the sinkhole since they believe it to be contained. I don’t know if this would make me feel particularly happy if I was living near there.

  19. amanda

    It’s another ‘shut up, smile, move along there is nothing to see here’ ODT apologist piece of ‘journalism’.

  20. amanda

    Hey you hotels near the sinkhole, relax, yes there is a sinkhole, but it is contained. Calm down. The DCC are onto it.

  21. Lance

    I’m sure the council has a few skeletons hidden away that they could use for back fill at St Clair.

  22. Steven Williams

    I am sorry to read Dunedin has this problem.

    The sea is vicious there having got used to the gentle swells around Auckland.

  23. Here we go again! Just call in the consultants. Isn’t that why we are in this predicament? As Lee Vandervis said in this morning’s ODT, and I had posted earlier, go to the experts. The Dutch have battled the ocean for centuries and there won’t be a problem they haven’t encountered. Why in hell our ‘gormless’ lot haven’t the gumption to see that and enlist the experience of the world’s best is a mystery. But no, we will go back down the same old track with people who will try to re-invent the wheel and charge us like a raging bull in the process. Result, another problem waiting to manifest itself. You would think the lesson is staring them right in the face, right now, but that is the problem with incompetence when it has the power to make decisions. Reading the brief, they are canvasing the consultants for proposals. How on earth are they going to assess them? Get another consultant to do so?

  24. Anonymous

    I believe, given what Jing Song has told us, that this problem could be solved by building a 28-storey hotel on the Esplanade. We should not turn this investment away, even as the flood waters consume South Dunedin.

  25. Hype O'Thermia

    Basement salt-water swimming-pool, now that’s what I call an attraction.

  26. Peter

    We went down to have a look today at the damage and noticed they are starting to pile up piles of rock breakers a number of metres out from the wall. This seems to be a feasible option for now, to a layman like me, though I can imagine a few howls coming from surfies and swimmers.

  27. JimmyJones

    Here is my (rejected) comment on the ODT’s editorial about the failed sea wall:

    Sea Wall Engineering Incompetence
    The DCC and the ODT are in a state of denial about the cause of the failure of the St Clair sea wall. The cause of the problem is poor engineering. Trying to shift the blame on to God or the weather is cowardly and is a good way to repeat the same mistake over and over again. The failure of the design of the wall is obvious because there have been no unusual stresses on the wall – an earthquake, for example. The wall since it was built has been exposed to the normal conditions that it should have been designed to cope with.
    The ODT editorial is wrong to say that “The first two sea walls, built in the 1880s, lasted only a few years” because it gives the wrong impression of the durability of DCC sea walls. We can tell now that the DCC in the 1880s eventually learned from its mistakes and built the old wall which lasted 100 years. This pertinent fact does not appear in the recent comments of the DCC and the ODT. Long lasting sea walls have been, and are being built all over the planet. We expect the post Sukhi Turner DCC to be able to do this also.
    In this case, bad design work from the engineers is the responsibility of the DCC. Poor quality engineering work from the DCC is a potentially serious ongoing problem. Get it fixed.

  28. JimmyJones

    My guess is that the DCC’s in-house engineering staff were replaced long ago by policy analysts and spin-doctors. I suggested, above, that this decline in engineering competence happened during the reign of Sukhi Turner, but I am not sure that she deserves all the blame.
    Who can tell me if the DCC staff includes any actual engineers, and who is to blame for the decline in their in-house engineering skills?

  29. Whippet

    Who was Sukhi’s CEO. That should answer your question JimmyJones.

  30. The original sea wall that was replaced in 2004 (or rather covered over) was constructed in 1913. A full description of its construction can be found at http://wp.me/pv7k2-Fb. Given the dynamic nature of the Otago coast the pressures on coastal structures are enormous. So to say there are no unusual stresses on the wall is not correct. If the 1880s teaches us anything it reminds us that you construct physical structures in the coastal area at your peril, and the same can be said for the 2004 re-construction. The 1990s were a period of particularly high erosional activity along the entire coastline. Severe storm and tide conditions triggered many significant dune erosion events. For example, in 1997/1998 the sand spit at Waikouaiti and Karitane estuary was completely destroyed, something that had not happened for more than 50-70 years. It’s easy to blame poor engineering, but the reality is the sea wall has exacerbated the reduction in beach height and pushed accelerated wave energy eastwards causing significant erosion past Moana Rua Road. Combine that with poor coastal practices of dumping fill material in the early to mid twentieth century to strengthen the dune toe and you have a highly unstable and erosional dune face. So the wall is problematic to both itself structurally and to the wider dunes.

  31. Hype O'Thermia

    Daseditor, the points you make confirm that there were NO unusual stresses, not for that coastline. What happened is what happens. An event that “had not happened for more than 50-70 years” can be expected to happen again. Planning should take notice, and should allow for AT LEAST that magnitude of natural occurrence unless there is overwhelming evidence that it was a (say) 1 in 500 years event. Forgetting past events, or expecting they won’t happen again, is what contributed greatly to the horror of Christchurch’s earthquakes. If records of known, dated events recorded post-European settlement had been kept in mind when planning later development there would have been a whole lot less devastation.
    The sea wall has to be mighty tough, our sea ain’t for sissies. We need expertise from places where they have successfully dealt with hard-ass sea and kept it and the land apart.

  32. JimmyJones

    daseditor: the “peril” that a sea wall faces is that its design is deficient and has not been designed to withstand normal and abnormal situations. In the case of the current (2004) sea wall the design failure was the inability to cope with the loss of only one metre of sand from its base, with the result that it was undermined. The sad thing about this costly error is they made exactly the same mistake about 100 years ago.
    Do you think that the loss of 1m of sand counts as an “unusual stress” that should have led to the failure of the wall? In my view the design specification should cope with a complete loss of sand. You tell us that the loss of sand is not unusual – “In 1914 almost all of the sand immediately in front of the wall at St Clair beach disappeared and this was repeated to a greater extent in 1919, 1935, 1939 into the high erosional period of the 1990′s.” – so any design that fails because of a loss of sand is an incompetent one.
    If you don’t like sea walls, you should say so, but it is ridiculous to say that one can not be built at St Clair to last a long time, given competent engineering. We all know this, because it happened: the 1913 sea wall lasted about 100 years. During that time it coped with extreem seas and sand losses. The 2004 wall has had to cope with nothing unusual; the difference is that the design does not incorporate the important lessons learned from the early failures and the recent successes.

  33. Hype O'Thermia

    Zactly, JimmyJones. Nothing unusual or unpredictable about what the sea did. Unexpected – the only unexpected thing is the colossal incompetence of those who designed and built this exercise in over-paid failure – and add to that the gormless council procedure that allowed them to get away with it.

  34. If I remember correctly, the original idea was to excavate the beach down to bedrock. I understand that there is a solid base of volcanic basalt. There was to be a groove cut into this bedrock into which the precast panels would be set and grouted in with concrete. This would have locked them in place and at the same time seal the bottom, preventing back fill being sluiced/sucked out. That this didn’t happen I believe was as a cost saving measure. Fatal mistake which again gets back to the design consultants. Can anyone confirm or deny that this is the case?

    • ### ODT Online Mon, 10 Jun 2013
      St Clair sea wall: Some food for thought
      Steve Moynihan, of Moynihan Coastal Consulting Ltd, provides some food for thought about the St Clair sea wall.
      Quite a lot has been said about the St Clair sea wall. I have joined the party late, mainly because I have had to carry out some calculations and prepare a drawing. I am a coastal engineer working from home in Omakau (not because of expected sea-level rise), and I have been involved in new beach design. Research on many beaches has shown soft (sand/shingle) beaches will adopt an equilibrium shape in plan when adjacent to a headland such as the seawater pool area at St Clair. Equilibrium is a state where there is no more erosion because the shoreline is everywhere in line with the incoming waves. A beach that has not reached an equilibrium shape will continue to erode until it does so. This is the case at the St Clair corner, which explains why there have been problems there since first occupation in the late 1800s.
      Read more

  35. That article together with the simulated illustrations is the most interesting I have seen. It demonstrates an approach by someone who obviously understands the science of the meeting of the ocean and the land with all its variations. Would that the DCC people would consult him further, rather than the other non specialist consultants like the last disasters. Too much to hope for?

  36. Mike

    the surfies will hate that

  37. Robert Hamlin

    There is a question that I would ask of the DCC’s replacements for their engineers – I long ago ceased to believe anything that the McKremlin or McPravda puts out as ‘information’:

    “You are claiming that the seawall at St Clair has been undermined, and that water is passing under it and fill passing out in significant quantities.

    You also apparently claim (via McPravda) that this wall goes six metres into the sand, but that said sluicing to and fro underneath it is going on after the beach level has only fallen one metre. Another clear case of McPravdamatics if ever I saw one – but let’s leave this on one side.

    The ‘sluicing under the wall’ theory implies that this seawall has nothing but sand under the end of the long narrow and thin concrete slabs that are held together (apparently with super bubble gum).

    If this is so, why has this thing not collapsed like a deck of cards? I ask this because if you take all these theories together and accept them as truth (unwise in my opinion given these sources) then there is nothing holding this seawall together at the bottom end – which is now exposed to the sea and with fresh air underneath it.”

    I still strongly suspect that this water is not coming under the slabs, but between them as they flex under the pressure – the super bubblegum having long become part to Dunedin’s civil engineering via third party provider history.

    I strongly suspect however, that whatever ‘consultant’ is appointed will have the establishment of the exact cause of failure well down the list on their terms of reference.

    • ### ODT Online Sun, 16 Jun 2013
      Sun, surf and not much sand at all
      By Debbie Porteous
      As the cost of plugging the gap under the St Clair sea wall spirals past $300,000, Debbie Porteous’ thoughts turn to sand. When the new sea wall was built in front of the old one at St Clair in 2004, a lot of people said something also had to be built to protect it. After years of increasing beach scouring, the eventual exposure of its toe and inevitable sink-holes in the footpath above in the late 1990s, there were many warnings from experts. The warnings were that wave pressure and sand erosion at St Clair Beach needed somehow to be mitigated or the wall, and the beach, would take a beating. They were accompanied by high level of concern from the community.
      Read more

  38. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes Robert, all this loose sand has been puzzling me too. What is the material of the “bank” behind the wall? Surely the wall was backfilled with something more substantial than sand… so is the water entering at pressure and acting like a high pressure hose in gold mining, blasting the small stuff out of wherever it can hit, then the small stones/rocks solid fill drop and allow access to further light material (sand)? This process can make chasms reaching back a long way horizontally / at an angle.

  39. Robert Hamlin

    It looked like sand when I saw it going in – which was what led me to predict the sinkholes’ eventual appearance before the miserable thing was ever completed – that and my astonishment in finding white (Selleys?) bathroom silicone sealant smeared onto the gaps between the concrete plates of the wall facing the beach.

    I was not the only one who was aghast. Concerns raised led to the assurance (delivered via McPravda I seem to recall) that further ‘super bubblegum’ lay behind the domestic grade bubblegum that appeared to be all that lay between the sand backfill and the Southern Ocean.

    As far as I know this assurance is the only evidence that any of this ‘super bubblegum’ ever existed and had ever been installed. I don’t recall seeing any when I was watching things going in. So it may or may not have ever actually been there – it may just be one of those things that goes ‘gurgle’ in the night – Y’know?

    It is hard to discern how these plates are held together. There appear to be no bolts or fastening on the surface – indicating a lack of any ‘through fastening’ system that would hold the plates together and mutually reinforce them – and I don’t recall seeing any on the back. If the super bubblegum was all that was holding these narrow skinny tilt slabs together between the structures that were holding them together at the top and (I hope) the bottom of the wall (10+ metres?), then it is likely that the ocean made short work of it. It is surprising how much long thin concrete sheets of concrete can flex when thumped really hard – and not many things thump harder than a big roller on the break.

    Holding concrete together against colossal shockloads in straight tension while at the same time being subjected to bombardments by abrasive laden corrosive liquids under enormous pressure is a lot to ask of any bubblegum – super or otherwise. This is as any owner of a leaky building that hopefully substituted sloped roofs and proper eaves for various pseudo Mediterranean designs relying on ‘mastic based’ waterproofing systems to plug the gaps between adjacent cement sheets will tell you.

    Perhaps as well as the weak overtures to the authors of this structure reported in McPravda today, the DCC should investigate if they can make a claim under the provisions of the leaky building legislation, on the basis that it’s clearly a monolithic concrete sheet building dating to the relevant period, and it clearly sure as hell leaks!

      Featured on Campbell Live tonight (TV3)

      St Clair esplanade still crumbling
      Mon, 17 Jun 2013 7:00p.m.
      [video] http://www.3news.co.nz/St-Clair-esplanade-still-crumbling/tabid/367/articleID/301794/Default.aspx


      ### ch9.co.nz June 17, 2013 – 6:26pm
      Ramp removed at the weekend
      A ramp beside the St Clair Surf Life Saving Club was removed at the weekend as the ocean continues to batter the sea wall. The DCC says stability issues meant it was too dangerous for contractors to work under the structure. Sheet piling was placed in front of the seawall today to protect it, and concrete will be poured along the toe of the panels tomorrow. The intention is to replace the ramp once the area has been stabilised.
      Ch39 Link [no video available]

  40. Hype O'Thermia

    How extraordinary! So it wasn’t a mix of sand and hydraulic lime, poured over a fill of rocks with the intent of having it drop through the gaps and cure to maximum strength over time underwater (added from the top afterwards, but allowing for any that wasn’t set to react to possible leakage of seawater into the cavity?). Still sounds a bit “fingers crossed” as a scheme but there would be a bit of logic behind it.

  41. Nothing would allow flexing better than to not have the panels locked at both ends. We know they are bonded at the top as it is plain to see. It is the bottom that worries me. As I previously said, it was, I am sure, intended that the panels be locked into a groove carved into the bedrock. I am also equally sure that was not done as a cost saving. Can anyone confirm or deny that?

    • ### ODT Online Tue, 11 Jun 2013
      Council may seek costs on sea wall
      By Debbie Porteous
      The Dunedin City Council might seek to recover some costs from the designer of the St Clair sea wall, if its design is found to have contributed to its recent partial failure. A comprehensive report from a yet-to-be appointed consultant, about the structural integrity of the existing wall, its design and its partial failure, is expected in the coming months. Council transportation operations manager Graeme Hamilton said yesterday if that showed the failing of the wall was linked to its design, then he ”suspected” there could be ”limited opportunity” to seek some costs.
      Read more

      • How depressing! How will DCC get robbed this time…

        ### ODT Online Thu, 13 Jun 2013
        11 express interest in sea wall solution
        By Debbie Porteous
        One individual and 10 firms think they can sort out the St Clair sea wall problems. The Dunedin City Council sent invitations to firms around the country late last week seeking expressions of interest from those who believed they had the skills to assess the structural integrity of the damaged sea wall and come up with a long-term plan for keeping beach sand in front of it. It had received 11 expressions of interest by yesterday. The applications will be assessed by senior council managers and engineers within the next few days, with the expectation one or two consultants will be chosen by next week.
        Read more

        • ### ch9.co.nz June 14, 2013 – 7:06pm
          Temporary repairs holding
          A report on the future of the St Clair sea wall may be some time away, but council staff say temporary repairs are holding. The next step will become clearer after a company is selected to ensure the long-term future of the area. But in the meantime local councillors appear to be facing plenty of questions from a concerned public.

  42. Hype O'Thermia

    Ooh, Council has noticed that we’ve noticed how often they put their hands into our pockets to fix up other people’s cockups. And there’s an election galloping towards us. I’d like to see something a little more … muscular … in “Dunedin City Council might seek to recover some costs from the designer of the St Clair sea wall” than “might”. It looks kind of limp, indecisive, like the yes-no, normal-slow, open-halfopen-shut John Wilson Memorial Drive.
    I know, how about a committee to write a report?

  43. City ‘senior managers and engineers’ will assess the offerings. Oh well, another round of misfits and nincompoops doing what they do best. Cock things up.
    Just a thought, if they said to Doug Hall, fix the wall and we will accommodate you on the Frederick St land dispute. Could be a win win moment.

    • Little question though (a tough one), Calvin, why would Doug Hall let DCC off lightly for its thorough incompetence, illegality, bullying, lies and shenanigans over SH88.

  44. Hype O'Thermia

    Now would be a good time for Dave & Greater [spendups] Dunedin to have a whirl at that transparency they talked about. Put the proposals up for public assessment. There will be a huge mass of ignorance unleashed. But it will be FREE ignorance. And amongst it will be sense from people with practical, theoretical and academic knowledge who are well able to critique the proposals before a cent is spent or another snafu embarked upon.

  45. Anonymous

    Recovery has doubled in a short time to $300K. Anyone want to guess when it all hits $1M? Feel free to take longshots on $50M, $150M and $300M. Let’s say the Stakeholders get involved too – that’s $400M. Let’s say the council takes out another loan – that’s $600M. Let’s say Syd Brown gets involved – that’s close to a billion and another 50 years. Now sell the whole damn beach cheap-as to Eion, Michael and their new business partners. Hey, laugh as much as you like but just you wait and see…

  46. Just watched Campbell Live TV3 on the St Clair sea wall debacle. I could not believe when I saw the wall suspended completely clear of the beach! That the design consultants could put a shoddy stunt like that over the DCC without the DCC taking them all the way to the Privy Council (if necessary) to get recompense would beggar the imagination. That would have to be the most deficient piece of ‘engineering professionalism’ one could imagine. The question remains, how much of the total length of that wall is equally compromised? If Dave Cull and his ‘wimps’ don’t take this all the way in the interests of the ratepayers, then they would be in dreadful conflict with their sworn obligations to protect and oversee those interests. A clear indication of their intentions must be demanded prior to the elections. I suggest a wave (excuse the pun) of protest be waged in these pages plus the ODT.

  47. Hype O'Thermia

    Looks like the entire “fill” behind the wall was S-A-N-D. No allowance whatsoever for any fault developing in the wall, no isolating system to prevent a break in one place spreading the whole length. What ramshackle design, what hubris! What a waste of our money.

  48. Rob Hamlin

    Well, it looks like I was wrong. Even shittier than I imagined, and I’m no optimist. But wait, I sincerely recall that McPravda said SIX metres down. Chinese whispers perhaps? Contractor – DCC officialdom – reporter?

    Still, on the same subject of hopeful design it will be interesting to see what remains of ORC/Lund’s ‘riverside garden’ next to the Commerce Building on Clyde St when the Leith finally subsides. Sand Hype? – this one gallantly assumed that mud would stay put when submerged in galloping pace water alongside a set of roaring stoppers. The mud in fact has disappeared wherever the water has so much as lapped. Hope, however, forever springs eternal!

    I was particularly amused to read the following in McPravda today.

    “Contractors had nearly finished the flood hazard work between Leith footbridge and Forth St after hold-ups due to the discovery piles for the work needed to be driven in, rather than being bored because of the type of soil. ”It’s what can happen when you are retrofitting works around pre-existing structures,” Dr Palmer said.”

    Nearly finished!! The work definitely looked nearly finished to me today, but by the Leith not the contractors or Dr Palmer. It is my understanding that this was supposed to be finished by February, presumably because some sensible fellow had realized that if a mixture of grass and mud was supposed to be responsible for containing the Leith over the winter months then at the very least it would help to have said grass germinated before nature shut up shop for the year.

    My office overlooks this site. Work has gone on spasmodically since late last year, with long periods where only a couple of ‘dudes’ have been in evidence, and not infrequently nobody at all. The piles around the bridge footings have only started to be the subject of obvious work over the last three or four weeks. Before that a pile of rocks was (hopefully) protecting the bridge footings.

    I am at a loss to see how the piles alone can have accounted for this delay. I presume that boring involves drilling a hole and putting a pile into it. This was the definition when I was building fences on a large scale. I further presume that they cannot be bored because they are dealing with custard and not strong subsoil in this area. Custard does not hold holes well. Why that should be a surprise, given the amount of heavy building (and pile driving) that has gone on in this vicinity (a lot via this contractor) in the last three or four years is a matter for complete astonishment.

  49. “Backfill sinkholes with gravel.” “High tides pending.” Sounds like a rendition of the DCC with its financial dealings. I can just envisage Dave Cull with a hard hat sitting on a digger furiously moving ‘dollar bills’ into sinkholes and Paul Orders (also in a hard hat) busy with a mortar board of concrete and a trowel desperately filling ever widening cracks in a wall trying to hold back the pressure of all those ‘dollar bills’ Dave is pushing in behind the wall. Behind them both is a mounting menacing wall of water of ‘tsunami’ proportions bearing down on them. Set to music it should make for a great rendition at the Stadium as the ‘Highlanders’ get set to face the Crusaders. Or an election chant?

  50. Anybody care to look at my posting on ODT online. It is abundantly clear that it (they) won’t go anywhere near scratching the DCC or the consultants. Consistent with Dave Cull’s mantra of ‘don’t revisit past misdeeds. It might just turn out to be distasteful’. That is why this town is in such dire straits.

    {Link added. -Eds}

  51. Hype O'Thermia

    Don’t learn from history.
    Stay ignorant.
    “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.” Jean Giraudoux
    Focus on the important stuff – getting re-elected. Smile a lot, shake hands warmly.

  52. Alan St Jin Beck

    Sinkholes are scary to those of a Romantic disposition, and here’s why. The ‘Beautiful Annabelle Lee’ fell down one, it was more a blowhole really. This became her ‘Sepulchre by The Sea’, far away from he, the Goth poet Edgar Allen Poe. There will be no Promenading before, or after, tea.

    • ASJB.
      On the subject of seaside accommodation I posted an ambulatory at ODT Online (1538 hours). It may have fallen. Then an ambulance (1549 hours). Unretrieved.

      Snow white
      Submitted by ej kerr on Tue, 18/06/2013 – 3:38pm.
      Talks: Walks the colour of money seen. An ambulatory.

      Red riding hood
      Submitted by ej kerr on Tue, 18/06/2013 – 3:49pm.
      Walks: Talks the wolfwheels of chamber. An ambulance.

      • Alan St Jin Beck

        Why not call them a Cab, Eliza? I would: “ODT, you’re a Cab”.

        • Cab? CAD? Too busy with diagrams to think of it.
          If in doubt dispense tape, wrap in a red rug, keep warm.

          Campbell Live 17.6.13 [screenshot 1a]Campbell Live 17.6.13 [screenshot 2a]Campbell Live 17.6.13 [screenshot view1]St Clair sea wall, Campbell Live (TV3) 17.6.13 [screenshots]

          [video] http://www.3news.co.nz/St-Clair-esplanade-still-crumbling/tabid/367/articleID/301794/Default.aspx (4:24)

        • ### ODT Online Sun, 30 Jun 2013
          Sea-wall work almost done
          By Debbie Porteous
          Work to secure and stabilise the damaged sections of sea wall and the Esplanade at St Clair should be completed by this weekend. Since the installation of new sheet-piling at the bottom of the sea wall was completed last week, contractors have been filling gaps behind the wall to protect it from the thumping of waves.
          Contractors would next go over the damaged area looking for any less obvious damage that had not been picked up yet. The next major stage of work would be looking at addressing the sand retention on the beach in the long term.
          Read more

        • ### ODT Online Thu, 4 Jul 2013
          Public gets no say over St Clair
          By Debbie Porteous
          A decision on how best to protect St Clair beach and the sea wall will be based on expert engineering advice and not ”expert public opinion”, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says.
          Council staff are expected to decide by the middle of next week which of three short-listed firms the council will hire to provide it with advice on the best engineering solution for the long-term protection of the beach and sea wall.
          [Council roading maintenance engineer Peter Standring] expected staff would be in a position to report to the council by September the ”best engineering advice” it had for a long-term solution.
          Mr Cull said councillors would then have to decide what to do based on the expert advice. There would be no public consultation on that decision, as such, although people would be kept informed of what was happening. Mr Cull said it would be irresponsible of the council to base a decision like this on public opinion in a situation that required specific technical and engineering expertise.
          Read more

          Dave! The public is always right when shopping at your store, remember.

        • OK. No contingency. No insurance. No more storms forever more.
          And we’re still paying through the nose for sweeteners on the loss-making DVML/DVL consortium.

          Dave! The SS DCC is rolling heavily from port to starboard, large seas will finish it off.

          ### ODT Online Thu, 4 Jul 2013
          Storm costs will stretch budget
          By Debbie Porteous
          Recent extreme weather in Dunedin has left the city council facing a rising clean-up and repair bill, with possibly little contingency for covering it.
          A $500,000 bill for unexpected damage to the St Clair sea wall and ”hundreds of thousands” of dollars so far for the clean-up of slips and road damage after last month’s significant rain event, could strain the budgets of a council in savings mode.
          The costs follow a warning from council operations staff earlier this year that they had no contingency in their budget for unexpected weather events. They will now report to councillors that they already face ”significant” costs to repair damage caused recently by the weather. Many of the bills are yet to come in.
          Whether the unforeseen costs will undermine the council’s ability to deliver essential front-line services remains to be seen, but they could at least eat into any surplus the council posts for the 2012-13 financial year.
          Read more

        • ### ch9.co.nz July 16, 2013 – 7:14pm
          Investigation approved by DCC
          The DCC has approved what should be the most thorough investigation of the St Clair sea wall to date. The wall was hammered by huge tides and heavy seas in late May, forcing emergency stabilisation work. The DCC today ordered a review of the facility, but not before a debate about when and where to lay the blame.

        • Since when do councillors listen to ratepayers on major spending decisions – most infrequently! Although, they do listen to the (minority) cycling lobby – that’s important, apparently.

          The council needed the facts as quickly as possible, but it would be up to ratepayers to decide if the ”serious” costs that came with it were acceptable. –Cr John Bezett

          ### ODT Online Wed, 17 Jul 2013
          Calls for accountability over failure of sea wall
          By Chris Morris
          Calls for accountability were met with pleas for a trial before a hanging as Dunedin city councillors considered the failure of the St Clair sea wall yesterday. The debate came as councillors approved plans to recruit an international consultant to help with sea wall repair plans, following repeated damage culminating in the emergence of sinkholes in May. The review was expected to cost the council up to $150,000 and take three months, but was endorsed by councillors at yesterday’s Dunedin City Council infrastructure services committee meeting. That followed a report by council transportation operations manager Graeme Hamilton that identified issues to be considered, from the continued structural integrity of the wall to the benefits of an offshore groyne.
          However, Cr Lee Vandervis saw red over the failure to mention the need for accountability in the report, and demanded it be a priority of the review. Warnings at the time the wall’s design was ”incompetent” had been ignored, and the project had ended up costing ratepayers $6 million, Cr Vandervis said. ”Every single aspect of this project has been compromised and we should have had a much harder look at responsibility way before now,” he said.
          The sea wall was designed by Duffill Watts and King, which later merged with Commes Consulting in Australia to become CPG, before morphing again to become Spiire late last year. The council struck a deal with Spiire earlier this year to split the estimated $250,000 repair bill to fix earlier damage to stairs and a ramp.
          Read more

  53. JimmyJones

    The big sink-hole pictured above is close to the life-saving club, but as you walk towards the swimming pool everything looks normal until the Candle-light corner where a baby sink-hole has appeared. It’s about one metre across and about 40 metres away from the other sink-holes. No-one seems to be paying it much attention yet, but we all know what happens to baby sink-holes.

    • ### ch9.co.nz June 20, 2013 – 6:46pm
      Perigee tides combine for awesome display
      While rain has been behind most of the damage to the city from this week’s storms, snow and high tides have also made their presence felt. St Clair beach put on an awesome display as perigee tides and fields of foam combined. And away from the coast, some visiting Australians met the white stuff for the first time.

  54. Yes Jimmy, they become raging teenagers.

  55. Robert Hamlin


    I met an engineer from an antique city
    Who said: A vast and useless wall of stone
    Stands on the beach. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Cullymandias, mayor of mayors:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    All my own work – honest!

  56. The next major stage of work should be addressing the business of obtaining compensation for the costs and inconvenience incurred by the unprofessional conduct of the original design consultants. That and setting very firm parameters for the next consultant about to be selected.

    • Not terribly strange that DCC isn’t mentioning redress, Calvin. The bumbling on this project from the start has most likely been traded away. We could ditch Mr Avery and his salary as a step to ‘clean up’.

  57. Hype O'Thermia

    There are bonuses for people who perform well in their roles. Well in reality there are bonuses automatically awarded to people who keep on breathing during the year, but let’s ignore that for a moment because there’s something else that in my opinion is worth considering. That is the “awarding” of moanuses for those who make a pig’s ear of their duties, i.e. the dud employee awards a bonus-sized recompense to the employer.

  58. Alan St Jin Beck

    Yeah yeah Calvin Oaten, hard to even stomach reading your comments when you are still publicly spouting on about global warming being a myth. 98% of scientists disagree, but Im sure you are right.

    Then again, the earth is still flat aye?

  59. Only 98% of scientists? But to get back to subject. Weren’t they “expert engineering advisers” who supplied and supervised the design and construction of the wall we have?

    • Calvin, there are experts and there are experts – selecting between them is a seawall of woe, if you are DCC bureaucrats (desk huggers), not DCC engineers (because your department was made redundant).

  60. Dave Cull suggests that the design and build of the wall was up with the best in design and technology of the time. An absolute cop out! That wall started to fail within the first year with the ramp out ever since. Sea wall construction has been developed and perfected over the centuries, so to suggest that this was the latest and best is a travesty. It can only be described as the ‘shonkiest cheap skate effort of professional engineering’ one could imagine. Even so, his comments give me no comfort that he will pursue this in the interests of the ratepayers. We don’t need expert reports to decide that. What they are needed for is to decide what is required to rectify the situation. Two very different sides of the equation I would have thought. Once again, Dave Cull shows a reluctance to take the hard steps in protecting his citizens’ interests.

    • Calvin, with regards to the Mayor’s perpetual fumbling and need to ‘void’ a good fight… well, I had a similar type exchange with Martin Legge tonight. Martin’s right, you’re right, the Mayor could have sorted Delta, Carisbrook, ORFU and more, and HE CHOSE NOT TO.

      Instead, as we all despair about, Liability Cull got into bed with OAG and a deep coverlet, defying all timely investigation. The Mayor is a complete fool, but I can think of stronger words. He didn’t have to be, he did make his own bed.

  61. Hype O'Thermia

    Where’s the delight and amazement, folks? A chocolate teapot he may be as a mayor but so what, he’s something MUCH more remarkable – a Time Traveller! Perhaps even a Time Lord.
    Proof: “Dave Cull suggests that the design and build of the wall was up with the best in design and technology of the time.”
    Definitely not our time, Calvin and Elizabeth – so, when? Long long ago, that’s when.

  62. Put the following to Dave Cull on his facebook site:

    Calvin Oaten
    Dave Cull suggests that the design and build of the wall was up with the best in design and technology of the time. An absolute cop out! That wall started to fail within the first year with the ramp out ever since. Sea wall construction has been developed and perfected over the centuries, so to suggest that this was the latest and best is a travesty. It can only be described as the ‘shonkiest cheapskate effort of professional engineering’ one could imagine. Even so, his comments give me no comfort that he will pursue this in the interests of the ratepayers. We don’t need expert reports to decide that. What they are needed for is to decide what is required to rectify the situation. Two very different sides of the equation I would have thought. Once again, Dave Cull shows a reluctance to take the hard steps in protecting his citizens’ interests.
    Like · · 15 hours ago

    Dave Cull
    Not sure what “hard steps” are referred to. I certainly won’t be advocating a witch-hunt in the past while the current issues await attention. The expert review I mentioned will do two things. First establish whether the original design met current sta…See More
    10 hours ago · Like

    Calvin Oaten
    “Not sure what “hard steps” are referred to?” Think ten years of wrecked ramp, shonky stairs, deteriorating railings, all costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars, now the wall itself in serious trouble. It doesn’t take a degree in engineering to see that the project was flawed from the beginning. A “hard step” would have to meant serving notice to the ‘professional design engineers’ (paid very handsome fees for their work) to front up and put it right. A “hard step” would have been to face down the ORFU people over the alleged defamation, thus getting all the truth out in the court room. A “hard step” would have been to face down the “exorbitant scroungers” who are ruining the city with the stadium. A “hard step” would be to pull the plug and tell the rugby folk that it was up to them to pay full rates for the use of that stadium, not the rate payers. It would have been a “hard step” to stop the cycleway project and point out the precarious financial position of the city and that committing of many $millions to benefit a clear minority was not sensible at present. A “hard step” would be to face up to the DCHL situation, and the fact that it is not possible for it to meet the requirements of the DCC Annual Plan’s budgeted payments to come from it. A “hard step” would be to admit that with over $650 million of consolidated debt, the city cannot afford to keep these “populous” policies coming along and pretending that they are affordable. A “hard step” would be to be honest and face up to the fact that the city is in deep trouble and you and your Greater Dunedin associates are in deep denial.

  63. Bev Butler

    Calvin, another “hard step” would be for the Mayor to question Sir Eion Edgar as to the whereabouts of his $1m donation pledge to the stadium. Another “hard step” for the Mayor would be to question why the ODT refused to report on this. Another “hard step” would be for the Mayor to question the whereabouts of the three $1m donations that Malcolm Farry “excitedly” announced in the media for the stadium construction.

  64. Hype O'Thermia

    Sorry folks, no more hard steps.
    It was a mistake to augment the mayoral regalia with mayoral fluffy slippers.
    I’m one of many who could have pointed it out at the time but I wasn’t consulted, not being a steakholder.

  65. Further to my posting on Dave Cull’s Facebook, today he responded. Big waffle all about anything but my list of “Hard Steps”. Like the Pope he has just excommunicated me.

    Dave Cull
    Whenever I am faced with a decision or option I choose the course that is in the best long term interests of the ratepayers as I see them. Because sometimes, no matter how much we might want it or want to rail about injustice or circumstances, the ideal option is not available. In those cases I take the best on offer. At the beginning of this term, I and my colleagues were very aware of the enormous challenge of high debt levels confronting Council. Indeed I had warned about that. That’s why during this term Council has put in place measures to reduce the repayment term of stadium debt, saving the ratepayers tens of millions of dollars of interest payments in to the future. Council this term has also deferred or deleted a good deal of planned debt funded capital spending, so this is the first year in a decade that Council’s debt repayment exceeds its borrowing. Going forward some 90% of Council’s renewals spending for instance is cash-flow funded rather than with debt as was planned by the last Council. So this Council is confronting the issues it inherited and ealing [sic] with them constructively. However we can’t stop doing anything else until all the problems are completely solved. There will always be problems. Projects like establishing a cycle network and developing an Energy Plan, which actually cost very little compared with the value and savings they offer, are essential if the city is to progress and develop. Council’s job is to positively frame the future, not wallow in angst and recriminations about the past. Calvin I don’t intend to engage further on these issues with you as you continue to repeat the same accusations and cry the same Jeremiah warnings, often abusively, regardless of the facts.
    2 hours ago · Like

    Calvin Oaten
    Dave, you ‘don’t intend to engage further on these issues’ with me. What’s changed because you don’t engage with the issues anyway. I refer you to my last “hard steps” piece immediately above. This, your latest post ignores each and every one of them so what’s your beef? If you really are concerned with what is best for the ratepayers in the long term you would most certainly have addressed the “hard steps”. You say that at the beginning of this term you and your colleagues were aware of the enormous challenge of high high debt levels confronting council. That didn’t stop you from increasing that level by presiding over an increase in debt from ($322.487m) to ($415.07m) [including DVL’s stadium debt transferred from DCC to DVL but still the city’s debt nonetheless]. You would (should) be aware of just how much the city’s ‘Consolidated debt’ (DCC’s plus DCHL’s) is in excess of $650m. Sorry Dave, but your diversionary tactics cannot hide the fact that under your chair the situation has not improved one iota. Rather, it has worsened and it still is except the people don’t know that.

    • That, Calvin, is Dave Liability Cull in full denial, DO NOT RELITIGATE THE PAST ON HIS WATCH.

      Since when did we need ‘imperatively NOW!!!’ cycle lanes at $47M and an Energy plan. for christ sake, we’ve got no industry left hardly that need a huge source of power, and Comalco is near dead in the water. As far as I’m concerned, at Dunedin the sun still shines and the rain still falls (or if not here, in the Alps) and the private sector [the market] at its own cost can work with that technologically, innovatively.

      No need to treat DCC as the all benevolent blue-sky Bank. That thinking has to stop.

  66. Hype O'Thermia

    Oh dear, fluffykittens! “Projects like establishing a cycle network and developing an Energy Plan, which actually cost very little compared with the value and savings they offer, are essential if the city is to progress and develop. Council’s job is to positively frame the future” in a hand-crafted frame made of recyclable materials picked up from our beaches by innocent children from a low-decile school and collaged into an item of beauty with a Maori theme signifying the importance of pointless gestures about the environment because they make us feel so good.

  67. BillyBob

    Interesting fellow, this Calvin Oaten. Does he do anything else apart from perpetually moaning about and to, the council?

    • Nothing at all wrong with being a council watchdog, especially since DCC is a seething mass of debts, dodgems and disabilities. And corrupt practice, d-word Delta.

      Calvin is most usually correct or well in the ballpark (since Cull’s council does not run transparently or accountably) – and Cull is most usually slant or plain stupid.

  68. Peter

    I don’t really know much about the cycle way plans for Dunedin or the Energy Plan as these things are out of my league/expertise to properly comment on.
    However, I think these ideas/proposals need to be put through a kind of ‘peer review wringer’ to test their validity/efficacy. Has this actually been done?
    It seems to me, while there are undoubtedly good intentions behind these plans, we must not allow good intentions to ultimately fail, miserably, to meet their own goals as, long term, cynicism takes over and nothing truly productive happens.

  69. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes, BillyBob, Calvin keeps himself busy making collages out of once-fluffy kittens which he picks up on our lovely beaches after they have been dumped by the families of the children from low-decile schools after the pet cat they couldn’t afford to get speyed had yet another litter they couldn’t find homes for, and nor could the SPCA so they turned them away. The SPCA has a lovely fluffy policy, you see – their policy is no killing, so if they aren’t confident they can rehome a healthy animal they slam the door and leave the problem for someone else.
    So Calvin has rather a lot of collages. We’ve been trying to persuade him to hold an exhibition.

  70. BillyBob; interesting that you think I am interesting. Actually what interests me is the interesting juxtaposition of council together with good governance. The former has no understanding whilst as a result, the latter is neither good nor effective. BillyBob, do you not find that an interesting fact? If, as a ratepayer you should.
    Hype; as BillyBob suspects, I do have some weird quirks but collecting dead cats on the sea shore is not one of them, and I do not exhibit.

  71. Hype O'Thermia

    No kitty collages. Calvin? Good heavens! Who on earth started that rumour?

  72. Peter

    Dave says he is not going ‘to rail about injustice’ from the past. The trouble is that unless past wrongs are put to right, nothing changes in the long term. You cannot ‘move on/forward’, as the cliche goes. The same people stay there and carry on their gross deeds.
    On a larger scale, try telling that to the likes of people like Nelson Mandela. Should he have made peace with the old apartheid regime and accepted less for the black majority in South Africa? I think not.

  73. Rob Hamlin

    I love this McPravda quote:

    “Mr Hamilton indicated last month the council could seek further costs from Spiire if the design was found to have contributed to the sinkholes.”

    I presume that after the consultant has looked wise, charged us 500,000 slides and carefully considered alternative causes such as space aliens nicking the foundations and substituting sand for proper backfill, silent asteroid strikes forming the sinkholes (really craters), invisible overnight tsunamis and the sinkholes being formed on the borders of temporary space-time discontinua, they will have to regretfully return to the design of the few bits of the wall that were actually installed, and the fewer bits that actually remain as the primary cause of these sinkholes.

    Perhaps a logical first move for the consultant at this sad point would be to locate the other similar and ‘world leading’ seawall designs upon which this one was based, and how they have fared – I suspect that, even if they really are an expert, our consultant will have to look for such precursor/examples for a long time before it might be quietly suggested to them that a further fee may be payable if they revisit and properly develop the thievin’ space alien theory outlined above as the key finding of their report.

    To be submitted after the election of course…

    • Dunedin City Council – Media Release
      Consultants Appointed for St Clair Seawall

      This item was published on 16 Aug 2013.

      Opus International Consultants Ltd, supported by DHI New Zealand, has been appointed to assist the Dunedin City Council with the next stages of the St Clair Seawall project.

      Opus International Consultants Ltd is an internationally respected firm with a strong New Zealand base. The support consultant, DHI New Zealand, is internationally recognised for its applied ability in water modelling and assessment capability encompassing marine and harbour situations.
      DCC General Manager Infrastructure and Networks Tony Avery says the consultants’ brief is to assess the current situation and provide recommendations for a process to protect the seawall and the beach amenity in the area in the long term.
      One of the first steps will be to hold a public forum where people can present their views and ideas to the consultants. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, 28 August at 6.30pm at the Forbury Park Raceway Hall and will involve Councillors, DCC engineers and consultants, as well as the public. The meeting will be advertised closer to the time.

      As part of the first stage of the work the consultants will also:
      ● Review the many reports available on the St Clair environment that have been prepared over the past 20-plus years, together with the many ideas submitted by residents.
      ● Hold a workshop with previous consultants to gather all relevant information related to the beach frontage and marine environment.
      ● Structurally evaluate the whole seawall, the promenade and the St Clair Surf Life Saving Club ramp.
      ● Provide a report on how issues have evolved over the years and highlight any gaps in the DCC’s understanding of the tidal processes along that stretch of ocean frontage. The report will also identify what information still needs to be collected.
      ● Provide alternatives to address the stability of the seawall in the longer term, while protecting beach amenity.

      Mr Avery says the consultants are expected to report back to the DCC in early October. The cost for this scoping stage is estimated at $130,000, with further stages to be defined once the scoping is complete.

      The structural integrity of the seawall was under threat following the undermining of the sand foundation and backfill over a 40m length of the seawall near the St Clair Surf Life Saving Club. The problem was identified when sinkholes appeared in the St Clair Esplanade paving in that area during extremely high tides in late May.

      Public access from the Esplanade down to the beach was restored late last month. Stabilisation of the seawall was completed earlier in July. The DCC has spent about $500,000 on repairs. This reflects the significant amount of work carried out by contractors at the site, often late at night, and the use of specialist machinery and advice.

      Contact Roading Maintenance Engineer on 03 477 4000.

      DCC Link

      • ### ODT Online Sun, 18 Aug 2013
        Public meeting about sea wall
        By Shawn McAvinue on
        The community will be able to share their ideas on the St Clair sea wall with Dunedin City Council consultants in the next $130,000 stage of the project, infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery says. Mr Avery said a meeting, to be held on August 28 at 6.30pm at Forbury Park Raceway Hall, would involve the public, councillors and council engineers and consultants.Opus International Consultants Ltd, supported by DHI New Zealand, would assist the council with the next stages of the St Clair sea wall project.
        Read more

  74. I understand that Dave Cull will be on to job of recovering the costs of that sea wall debacle after the speech that was published on the Dave Cull Facebook site by someone masquerading as me.

    Calvin Oaten
    In fact Dave, it’s the debt which is your Achilles heel. If you think about it, there is a large component of that debt which is a dead load on the ratepayers. The stadium consumes between $15 -$20m pa in interest, debt reduction plus operating losses. Its debt load to the citizens is around $140m. The Town Hall Conference Centre carries some $55m and as the consultants showed, even if it meets the projected 36 conferences per year it shows a deficit of $4.6m pa. The Otago Settlers Museum carries around $37m debt plus operating expenses with no revenue at all. This is because entry is free. All in all that’s $230m or so of the total of $415m DCC debt. If we look at the consolidated position which is the DCC’s plus DCHL’s we have over $650m debt. Now if we divide that among some 53,000 ratepayers it comes to $12,226 per head. Now how many of those could write out a cheque for that amount?
    Dave, if you were on top of your game and really honest you would say to the people, “Let’s face it we are in a really tight financial position so we need to park the cycleway project, the Energy plan, the Spatial Plan, in fact we need to call a halt to all non essential expenditure until the situation is brought under control. There is always the unexpected which we must be prepared for and the St Clair sea wall is a case in point. I intend to see that through and leave no stone unturned to recover costs incurred through incompetent professional contractors.
    We must call a halt to non strategic organisations. The NZ Rugby folk have got to realise that it is no longer fair or reasonable to expect the citizens to underwrite their activities. The cycleway project, while being highly desirable, can in no way be seen as essential to the running of the city.
    There are a myriad of things and projects which would all be desirable but if we are to be honest with ourselves we should be prepared to bury our “selfish gene” in the interest of the majority. It is that “gene” which has gotten us into the dire situation we are.
    Folks, I trust that you can appreciate the seriousness of the position and can therefore understand why it is that I am forced to ‘front up’ and say, “we haven’t done a good job up to now, but I promise that if you maintain your faith in me that I will make my best effort to save this city. It won’t be easy, and all manner of wheels will be looking for oil. But I will be steadfast until we have reduced the debt burden crippling this city, then, and only then, can we start to implement the plans to make this the the world class “small city” that we all aspire to.
    So if you will all bear with me, I am sure that I and my fellow councillors, together with an able administration will be able to take us all to that better place.”
    Hey Dave is that you.

    • Calvin, just to correct slightly. Otago Settlers Museum hires out its function areas regularly for revenue purposes – as planned. There is the gift shop, the cafe (leased), the archives, the pay-as-you-go daily walking tour of Dunedin, and the popular Tuesday Club each week (entry fee). Plus, the museum has the active and highly capable Friends (OSA) for significant fundraising.

      It helps to know what the museum does – see museum activities, visitor programme, holiday programmes, event bookings as well as OSA efforts, etc before expounding that there’s no revenue!

      Visit http://www.otago.settlers.museum/

      From the Redevelopment FAQs:

      How much did the project cost?
      The total cost was $37.4 million. The Dunedin City Council has committed $28 million to the project. The remaining funds are to be raised by the museum.

      Major grants have been received from or promised by:
      Ministry for Arts, Culture & Heritage
      Community Trust of Otago
      NZ Lottery Grants Board
      Otago Settlers Association
      Perpetual Trust
      AAW Jones Charitable Trust
      Alexander McMillan Trust
      Callis Charitable Trust
      Otago Motor Club Trust
      Mrs Dawn Ibbotson
      Barry Clarke and Clarke Craw Ltd
      I E O McKellar Charitable Trust
      Eleanor and Jim Leckie
      Lady Elsie M Barnes
      Mrs AC Reid
      Oliham Trust
      AMI Limited
      AK and KF Jeffery

      Many other donations from trusts and individuals have also been received, for which the museum is very grateful.

    • ### ODT Online Thu, 25 Jul 2013
      Consultation over Esplanade ‘possible’
      By John Lewis
      A request for public consultation on the future of the Esplanade at St Clair is to be made to the Dunedin City Council, following a public meeting at the St Clair Surf Life Saving Club last night. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull recently said a decision on how best to protect St Clair Beach and the sea wall would be based on expert engineering advice, not ”expert public opinion”. However, there was some hope when council roading network engineer Peter Standring told last night’s meeting it was ”possible” for the DCC to consult people in the community with knowledge of the beach.
      Read more

      • ### ch9.co.nz August 28, 2013 – 6:57pm
        St Clair beach and seawall topic of local forum
        The public gets the chance to have its say on the future of the St Clair beach and seawall this evening.

        • Vacuous words from ‘the leaders’ and their ‘consultants’. This was to be expected, most of them failed to get out of the sandpit at an early age. Then they were paid high high stipends, salaries or fees.

          ### ODT Online Thu, 29 Aug 2013
          Heated debate over sea wall problem
          By Nigel Benson
          A public forum on the battered St Clair sea wall led to some heated debate at the Forbury Park Raceway hall in Dunedin last night. ”This is not a design-by-committee or about beating up the council,” meeting chairman Cr Andrew Noone said.
          City operations manager Tony Avery said it was still not clear what the best solution was.
          Council network maintenance engineer Peter Standring said remedial work had, so far, cost ratepayers $500,000.
          Many at the 200-strong forum expressed frustration at the remedial response to date. The council has set until the middle of next month for public submissions, with an Opus report due by mid-October.
          Read more

        • ### ch9.co.nz August 29, 2013 – 6:56pm
          Essential beach ramp to re-open
          A beach ramp St Clair lifesavers say is essential to save lives will be re-opened by late October. That information came after a passionate public meeting on the issue of the battered seawall last night. And it is one good result for concerned residents.

  75. Hype O'Thermia

    I think it will be proved to have been caused by bad vibes from all the negative people, the naysayers. We are all one, how can we imagine that the wonders of Nature are not affected by our energies. What we need to do is come together in a Circle of Healing, holding hands and encircling the wounded seafront with a chanting rainbow-hued mass demonstration of Love for the Planet.

    [Please excuse. Shouldn’t have stayed in with a nice cuppa last night, I think I’ve come down with Emersons deprivation.]

  76. Elizabeth, fair enough, just what we really needed was more function areas. I realise that there is fundraising, but it is and can only be a fraction of the whole. It is not just the debt but the operating expenses which will contribute substantially to the burden. In all of these grand projects it is not just the getting, but also the having, which is the burden.

  77. Hey hey! Here we go again. OPUS supported by DHI NZ (don’t you just love the titles these plonkers dream up.) are to eat up $130,000 of our money in a “scoping exercise” with a view to producing a report to council on what appears to be the problem with the St Clair sea wall. These are the same ‘muppets’ who created the problem in the first place. They’ll deny that of course, saying it was DWK (or whatever they are now called) but they are all cross pollinated with a funny ‘handshake’. Of course it wouldn’t occur to Tony Avery (very little does occur to him, as Doug Hall could attest) to go outside the ‘circle’ and actually approach some people who actually know about these things. Like the folk in the European ‘Lowlands’ Holland and Belgium who have dealt with the vagaries and vicissitudes of the oceans over centuries. Oh no, let’s get our wet behind the ears, funny hatted luminous vested people hiding behind a veil of incompetence to rip us off again. Go to a public meeting? Why would any sane person do that? It will be all cut and dried with the usual line of ‘dander.’
    I am somehow reminded of the ‘frustrated drake who just couldn’t get up for down’.

    • Here I must agree with Calvin completely, except that we need strong questioners attending that meeting, to confront Avery on a professional and personal basis.

  78. Hype O'Thermia

    ”We have quite a complex engineering problem in front of us,” Opus senior project manager Steve Rollason said. ”The beach changes all the time.”

    Well cor blimey, strike a light guv, you could’a knocked me down wiv a fevver.

  79. Peter

    At least they were honest about the magnitude of the problem and weren’t pretending that everything was in hand, for a solution, in the meantime. There will be many experts – lay and professional – spouting off, but they need to get it right.
    I read that one person has suggested a reef to break the waves. Feasible? I don’t know. May not suit the surfers, but I wonder if their interests may need to be sacrificed for the greater good for any proposed solution.

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