DCC infrastructure performance report (30.11.15) subject to ‘internal review’ only #Jun2015flood

Received.

From: Kristy Rusher
Sent: Sunday, 21 February 2016 9:59 p.m.
To: Elizabeth Kerr
Subject: FW: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

Hi Elizabeth,

In response to the information request – 531354, I advise the DCC did not arrange a formal external peer review of the report you refer to. However the report and modelling was reviewed internally.
[site moderator’s emphasis]

After this report was made public it was scrutinised by external experts (Bruce Hendry and Trevor Williams) who had previously commented critically on the Council’s public statements. Feedback from these individuals was that the report was thorough and the numbers and analysis stood up to scrutiny.
Therefore we are unable to provide you with a peer review in digital format on the basis that the information you have requested does not exist (section 17(e) Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987).

As we have declined to provide information that you have requested, you are advised that you may request that the Ombudsman review our decision. The contact details for the Ombudsman are available at this webpage: http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/

Regards, Kristy Rusher

Kristy Rusher
Manager Civic and Legal, Civic
Dunedin City Council

The Official Information Form at the DCC website was used to lodge my request, however this removes all document formatting – therefore, and as an official file record, the request was also forwarded by email:

From: Elizabeth Kerr
Sent: Monday, 25 January 2016 12:23 p.m.
To: Sandy Graham
Cc: Kristy Rusher; Elizabeth Kerr
Subject: LGOIMA Request – Ref No. 531354

Dear Sandy

LGOIMA Request – June 2015 Dunedin Flood
Reference No. 531354

In reference to the news article in today’s Otago Daily Times, ‘April date for report on flooding’
http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/370819/april-date-report-flooding
I note the anticipated report is subject to peer review:

“Mr McCabe told the Otago Daily Times the lengthy timeline was needed to ensure the report was “robust”, including an external peer review of its findings.”

I note the earlier council report, tabled at the full council meeting on 30 November 2015 (I attended this meeting):

Report – Council – 30/11/2015 (PDF, 553 KB)
Infrastructure Performance During June 2015 Flood Event

I request the following information:

1. Was the flood report of 30/11/15 peer reviewed?

2. What was the name(s) of the peer reviewer(s) and their professional accreditation and or relevant work experience?

3. Is the peer review(s) available for public scrutiny, and if so I request a copy in digital format by email.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards, Elizabeth

I was informed in person, in January, that the Water and Waste Services department report, ‘Infrastructure Performance During June 2015 Flood Event’, tabled at the full council meeting on 30.11.15, had been “peer reviewed” and the time taken for review was cause for delay of the report’s release.

We now learn an “internal review” happened at the council, with some external scrutiny. In considerable doubt, since DCC does not provide the evidence in its official response (21.2.16), is the claim that “Feedback from these individuals was that the report was thorough and the numbers and analysis stood up to scrutiny.”

An internal review is a long way short of an independent peer review – peer reviews are typically formally briefed as to scope etc with binding agreement of the parties.

Commonly, in New Zealand, the following is used as a guide to scoping peer review processes:

IPENZ Practice Note 02
Peer Review: Reviewing the work of another Engineer (June 2003)
ISSN 1176-0907 (PDF, 552 KB)

How does the ‘internal review’ stand against the news story,
Flooding: lack of maintenance blamed
(ODT 13.2.16) —where Bruce Hendry is cited: “A man who helped build South Dunedin’s drainage network says a lack of maintenance exacerbated problems caused by last year’s record-breaking flood. […] “Eight months after what has probably been the biggest and most expensive disaster in Dunedin since the 1929 floods, answers relating to the future and safety of those most affected, particularly residents of South Dunedin, have not been given,” he said in the report.” What report? DCC fails to produce it.

What will happen in April with the release of the report from the DCC’s Transport department on the performance of drains and mudtanks during the flood, and which in recent times have been subject to poor maintenance and lack of upgrade?

Related Post and Comments:
● 13.2.16 South Dunedin Flood (3 June 2015): Bruce Hendry via ODT
4.2.16 2GP commissioner appears to tell Council outcome… #hazardzones
4.2.16 Level responses to Dunedin mayor’s hippo soup #Jun2015flood
30.1.16 DCC Rates: LOCAL CONTEXT not Stats —Delta and Hippopotamuses
25.1.16 DCC: South Dunedin Integrated Catchment Management Plan (ICMP)
19.1.16 Listener 23.1.16 (letter): South Dunedin #Jun2015flood
16.1.16 NZ Listener 16.1.16 (letter): South Dunedin #Jun2015flood
10.1.16 Infrastructure ‘open to facile misinterpretation’…. or local ignore
5.1.16 Hammered from all sides #fixit [dunedinflood Jun2015]
● 24.12.15 Site notice: posts removed
● 3.11.15 South Dunedin Flood | Correspondence & Debriefing Notes released by DCC today #LGOIMA

█ For more, enter the terms *flood*, *hazard* or *south dunedin* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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16 Comments

Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Geography, Infrastructure, Name, New Zealand, Ombudsman, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Resource management, South Dunedin

16 responses to “DCC infrastructure performance report (30.11.15) subject to ‘internal review’ only #Jun2015flood

  1. Elizabeth

    Although I mention the IPENZ practice note for peer reviews as being a guideline (for potential wider use, where there is relevance) this is not to say the DCC report of 30/11/15 is written by an engineer. However, IPENZ produces serveral notes and templates that are referenced by those working in the built environment, for ethical and professional reasons and as a fair and reasonable comparative standpoint.

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    We’d decided not to bother with a peer review but we asked these two knowledgeable chaps what they thought about what we ourselves reckoned the guts of the story was, and they said yeah it’s okay.
    So Charley and me had another cup of tea
    And then we went home.

    Hope this answers all your questions, Elizabeth.

  3. Elizabeth

    Dear Hype O’Thermia, not at all.

  4. Elizabeth

    Comment originally published in reply to the post “South Dunedin flood (June 2015) —rational public opinion” (23.12.14), subsequently removed from this website, along with 4 comments.

    Rob Hamlin was responding to the opinion piece, linked at the post, written by Neil Johnstone and published by the Otago Daily Times (23.12.15), entitled Cull’s flood remarks a ‘mishmash’.

    Rob Hamlin
    December 24, 2015 at 8:28 am

    It is good to see that the Mayor has finally been ‘called’ by somebody that cannot be dismissed with a tirade of personal insults and pseudo-techno gibberish.

    I am personally astonished that the residents and property owners of South Dunedin have not reacted more aggressively to these mayoral effusions that destroy the tradability of their homes and thus alienate their property and trap them in this neighbourhood. Recent remarks have essentially damned the entire area without giving any specific remedy.

    While issuing remarks that essentially make homes unsellable in this area, the Council have not systematically investigated the causes and possible remedies and disseminated detailed results before doing so. The obvious one is if maintaining the existing drainage system properly could have averted this event.

    The pumps were blocked – OK, how long had they been blocked? When were they last inspected? If they have been there for donkey’s years are spares for them speedily available, or available at all? What backup facilities exist in case of failure?

    What is the regime for clearing the sumps and tanks that are essential for keeping the nearly horizontal drains clear of heavy debris? When drains become blocked are the horizontal pipes checked for deposits of heavy debris (this largely inorganic fraction, such as sand, does not flush through with low flow rates, but simply silts up on the bottom of the pipe, solidifies and reduces the capacity)?

    Is there ANY routine regime of pipe inspection – or are blockages and silt-ups exclusively detected by uncontrolled flooding? If the area floods is the system in the locality thoroughly checked, cleaned and reviewed as a routine response in the aftermath?

    I suspect that the answers to these questions will be: ‘Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know. don’t know, nothing, none, no, no, yes and – don’t be silly’.

    Not that you would be likely to receive anything as useful and concise as this. A referral to a contractor followed by an LGOIMA response: ‘This information has been withheld under Section blah blah of the Local Government Act 2002 on the basis that blah, blah blah. See the recent response to Calvin Oaten by Davies published here for a fine example of the breed.

    Until an adequate analysis of the role of (lack of?) maintenance in these floods is publicly available, then talk of managed retreat (joke, as no management appears to have occurred to date), sea level rise, ground water rise (or is it ground subsidence?) are premature at best.

    As to the residents of South Dunedin, it’s high time that they realised, along with everybody else in this country that local government has evolved since 2002. The local governments of today are not necessarily the friends or the agents of the average citizen, and their statements, intents and activities need to be dealt with accordingly and in a manner that is appropriate to that appreciation.

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    After posting I wondered if I’d misunderstood something, you know, feeling so very underwhelmed. So I went back to the reportette lite, carefully reading between the lines, but it had all been pre-redacted since there was nothing more to be seen.

  6. Hype O'Thermia

    You’re right. As demarcated emptiness goes it’s a popped balloon. The DCC needs to outsource. Were a suitably lucrative contract put before me I would certainly put serious consideration into taking on the role – for the good of the city, you understand.

  7. Elizabeth

    Reply to LGOIMA response received 21.2.16 (see post at top of thread):

    From: Elizabeth Kerr
    Sent: Monday, 22 February 2016 4:24 a.m.
    To: Kristy Rusher
    Cc: Sandy Graham; Sue Bidrose; Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: RE: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

    Dear Kristy

    In your official response below, you say:

    After this report was made public it was scrutinised by external experts (Bruce Hendry and Trevor Williams) who had previously commented critically on the Council’s public statements. Feedback from these individuals was that the report was thorough and the numbers and analysis stood up to scrutiny.
    Therefore we are unable to provide you with a peer review in digital format….

    Without copy of the feedback DCC received from both men I cannot ascertain the truth of your statement (see my bolding).

    I note the news story, Flooding: lack of maintenance blamed (ODT 13/2/2016), also references Bruce Hendry in regard to a “report”:

    A man who helped build South Dunedin’s drainage network says a lack of maintenance exacerbated problems caused by last year’s record-breaking flood. Bruce Hendry (81) wrote a report on last June’s flooding after becoming fed up with the lack of answers from the Dunedin City Council. “Eight months after what has probably been the biggest and most expensive disaster in Dunedin since the 1929 floods, answers relating to the future and safety of those most affected, particularly residents of South Dunedin, have not been given,” he said in the report.

    [Information previously received in regards to both men, is attached. Supplied by Grace Ockwell on 3/11/2015, in response to LGOIMA Request 520749 (lodged 3/9/2015) – entitled Kerr, Elizabeth LGOIMA Correspondence Hendry and Williams 2015.]

    For my clarification, I request copy of the/any written feedback and or report(s) DCC received from Bruce Hendry and Trevor Williams, in consideration of this report:

    Report – Council – 30/11/2015 (PDF, 553 KB)
    Infrastructure Performance During June 2015 Flood Event
    https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/526250/ma_council_r_Flood_2015_11_30.pdf

    I seek email copy of their “feedback” documentation as part of my LGOIMA request 531354.

    Kind regards, Elizabeth

  8. Elizabeth

    From: Elizabeth Kerr
    Sent: Monday, 22 February 2016 12:39 p.m.
    To: Kristy Rusher
    Cc: Sandy Graham; Sue Bidrose; Elizabeth Kerr; editor@odt.co.nz
    Subject: RE: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

    Acknowledged. Thanks Kristy.

    Most hopefully it will be sooner than 20 working days. My emphasis below in your message.

    I imagine the information, being quite reasonably current and if not bound by confidentiality is relatively simple to email at shorter notice.

    These information requests spin out rather, at the city council’s end.

    Kind regards, Elizabeth

    From: Kristy Rusher
    Sent: Monday, 22 February 2016 12:17 p.m.
    To: Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: RE: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I’m writing to acknowledge receipt of your further request for information on this topic. As you are aware, a decision on your request will be provided within 20 working days.

    Regards, Kristy.

    [Kristy Rusher, Manager Civic and Legal, Civic
    Dunedin City Council]

  9. Peter

    Good one, Elizabeth, for pursuing this. It looks to me they called these two gents in for a chat in order to stem the criticism and said we will call it an external peer review because it sounds more official. There will be no documentation because as they admit there was never one in the first place.
    All this is symptomatic of Monty Pythonesque incompetence within the council. What a bunch of fools.

  10. Elizabeth

    Received [LGOIMA].

    From: Kristy Rusher
    Sent: Thursday, 10 March 2016 5:42 p.m.
    To: Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: South Dunedin stormwater

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Please refer to comments below and attachments as per your information request at the foot of this message.

    Thanks, Kristy.

    Kristy Rusher
    Manager Civic and Legal, Civic
    Dunedin City Council

    From: Bruce Hendry
    Sent: Monday, 15 February 2016 8:54 p.m.
    To: Laura McElhone
    Subject: My report to the ODT on Souith Dunedin stormwater

    Hi Laura I attach my full report to the ODT. What was in the paper on Saturday was mainly what the reporter and I spoke about while sitting on a fence in Macandrew Road and no mention has been made of the report you prepared and it should have been. You deserved it.

    Bruce Hendry

    (2) Attachments:

    DCC supplied scan0002 [Single No. 2. Mudtanks – render]

    DCC supplied Report to ODT on South Dunedin Stormwater [Bruce Hendry]

    —————————————————————————————————

    Your original request:

    From: Elizabeth Kerr [mailto:ejkerr@ihug.co.nz]
    Sent: Monday, 22 February 2016 4:24 a.m.
    To: Kristy Rusher
    Cc: Sandy Graham; Sue Bidrose; Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: RE: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

    Dear Kristy

    In your official response below, you say:

    After this report was made public it was scrutinised by external experts (Bruce Hendry and Trevor Williams) who had previously commented critically on the Council’s public statements. Feedback from these individuals was that the report was thorough and the numbers and analysis stood up to scrutiny.
    Therefore we are unable to provide you with a peer review in digital format….

    Without copy of the feedback DCC received from both men I cannot ascertain the truth of your statement (see my bolding and underlining).

    I note the news story, Flooding: lack of maintenance blamed (ODT 13/2/2016), also references Bruce Hendry in regard to a “report”:

    A man who helped build South Dunedin’s drainage network says a lack of maintenance exacerbated problems caused by last year’s record-breaking flood. Bruce Hendry (81) wrote a report on last June’s flooding after becoming fed up with the lack of answers from the Dunedin City Council. “Eight months after what has probably been the biggest and most expensive disaster in Dunedin since the 1929 floods, answers relating to the future and safety of those most affected, particularly residents of South Dunedin, have not been given,” he said in the report.

    [Information previously received in regards to both men, is attached. Supplied by Grace Ockwell on 3/11/2015, in response to LGOIMA Request 520749 (lodged 3/9/2015) – entitled ‘Kerr, Elizabeth LGOIMA Correspondence Hendry and Williams 2015’.]

    For my clarification, I request copy of the/any written feedback and or report(s) DCC received from Bruce Hendry and Trevor Williams, in consideration of this report:

    Report – Council – 30/11/2015 (PDF, 553 KB)
    Infrastructure Performance During June 2015 Flood Event

    I seek email copy of their “feedback” documentation as part of my LGOIMA request 531354.

    Kind regards, Elizabeth

    From: Elizabeth Kerr
    Sent: Sunday, 21 February 2016 10:01 p.m.
    To: Kristy Rusher
    Subject: RE: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

    Acknowledging receipt. Thanks Kristy.

    Regards, Elizabeth

    From: Kristy Rusher
    Sent: Sunday, 21 February 2016 9:59 p.m.
    To: Elizabeth (ejkerr@ihug.co.nz)
    Subject: FW: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

    Hi Elizabeth,

    In response to the information request – 531354, I advise the DCC did not arrange a formal external peer review of the report you refer to. However the report and modelling was reviewed internally.

    After this report was made public it was scrutinised by external experts (Bruce Hendry and Trevor Williams) who had previously commented critically on the Council’s public statements. Feedback from these individuals was that the report was thorough and the numbers and analysis stood up to scrutiny.
    Therefore we are unable to provide you with a peer review in digital format on the basis that the information you have requested does not exist (section 17(e) Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987).

    As we have declined to provide information that you have requested, you are advised that you may request that the Ombudsman review our decision. The contact details for the Ombudsman are available at this webpage: http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/

    Regards, Kristy Rusher

    Kristy Rusher
    Manager Civic and Legal, Civic
    Dunedin City Council

    [DCC Online Official Information form removes formatting]

    From: Elizabeth [Kerr]
    Sent: Monday, 25 January 2016 10:32 a.m.
    To: officialinformation@dcc.govt.nz
    Subject: Local Government Official Information request – 531354

    Elizabeth has submitted a LGOIMA request – 531354.

    Below are the details of the request

    Request details:
    LGOIMA Request – June 2015 Dunedin Flood In reference to the news article in today’s Otago Daily Times, ‘April date for report on flooding’ http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/370819/april-date-report-flooding I note the anticipated report is subject to peer review: “Mr McCabe told the Otago Daily Times the lengthy timeline was needed to ensure the report was “robust”, including an external peer review of its findings.” I note the earlier council report, tabled at the full council meeting on 30 November 2015 (I attended this meeting): Report – Council – 30/11/2015 (PDF, 553 KB) Infrastructure Performance During June 2015 Flood Event https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/526250/ma_council_r_Flood_2015_11_30.pdf I request the following information: 1. Was the flood report of 30/11/15 peer reviewed? 2. What was the name(s) of the peer reviewer(s) and their professional accreditation and or relevant work experience? 3. Is the peer review(s) available for public scrutiny, and if so I request a copy in digital format by email. I look forward to your reply. [ends]

  11. Diane Yeldon

    Goodness! What a hole the DCC has dug for themselves here. Well supervised, Elizabeth. Perhaps the way for them to extricate themselves is to actually get a peer review done since they appear to have referred to one which didn’t exist. Such an independent peer review would be obtainable with an official infornation request. Wonder whether it would say that the DCC had neglected their water infrastructure, contributing to the severity of the flood. If it did, I suppose they could be sued by ratepayers with flood damaged property. Considering how tough insurance companies are, especially when it comes to land damage, the DCC offering settlements and keeping lawyers pretty much out of it might be the best way for adversely affected property owners to get any relief.

    • Elizabeth

      As two contributors of comments say at ODT Online, an independent inquiry is needed into DCC’s handling of the flood conditions, DCC reporting of infrastructure performance, and the condition of South Dunedin stormwater infrastructure generally.

      Notwithstanding, private insurance companies have had to meet multimillion-dollar flood damage claims owing to the commonly perceived lack of council infrastructure performance largely caused by lack of council maintenance and upgrades to stormwater systems at South Dunedin (and very possibly the same applies for affected properties at Mosgiel).

      The COSTS of the 3 June 2015 flood are very very substantial.

  12. Elizabeth

    Frustrated homeowners in Dunedin still fighting to pick up the pieces, nine months after last year’s $30m flood. Chris Morris talks to the forgotten victims about broken houses and shattered dreams.

    ### ODT Online Sat, 12 Mar 2016
    ODT Insight: Picking Up the Pieces: The Fight for Flood Insurance
    Flood insurance ‘nightmare’
    By Chris Morris
    ….Within 24 hours, the deluge had overwhelmed parts of the city’s infrastructure and flooded streets, homes and businesses, with South Dunedin the worst hit. In the weeks that followed, compensation claims began to pour in almost as fast as the rain fell, eventually resulting in 2405 payouts by insurance companies and another 93 by the Earthquake Commission. The payouts pumped nearly $30 million into rebuilding waterlogged Dunedin properties and lives, but the figure does not capture the fate, or the frustration, of those still out of pocket, nine months after the event.
    Read more + Video

    Otago Daily Times Published on Mar 10, 2016
    Dunedin flooding June 2015
    Serious flooding affected part of Dunedin in June 2015

    ODT: Paid late and still left out of pocket
    ODT: Neighbour shares EQC frustration

  13. Calvin Oaten

    The ODT stories of the folk who are left out on a limb by insurance and EQC demonstrates the hazards of being in flood prone locations. There would seem to have been an exaggerated effect in the Glen Rd catchment area in the June 2015 rain event. Local intensities are not uncommon and the damage to the watercourse can be large. There was a similar event in recent years where the York Place St Andrew Sts caused havoc in the CBD as a result. That again was an intensified event which overwhelmed the system. Sympathetic as we are, this does not in any way mitigate the effect on South Dunedin generally , as, overall the rainfall was not more than a one in 25 or 30 year event, as Mr Johnstone’s report indicates. It all still points to the lack of maintenance to the system by the DCC administration via contractors and staff that, try as they might, cannot be avoided. It is noteworthy that the ODT article did not investigate this aspect in any way. Why? Who knows, but it seems that the DCC are determined to shrug off any responsibility for the results of the event, trying desperately to lay the blame on ‘Climate Change’ and sea level rising. Not good enough, I would think, and we have not heard the last of this debacle by any means.

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