Johnstone independent review of DCC report #SouthDunedinFlood

Semi-retired consulting engineer Neil Johnstone was invited to speak to his independent review of the DCC report, Infrastructure Performance During June 2015 Flood Event (30 Nov 2015), at Monday night’s public meeting held in South Dunedin.

Large numbers of local householders and business people, together with news media, filled Nations Church Auditorium at 334 King Edward Street, to examine why South Dunedin “flooded” on 3 June of last year.

Dunedin City Council personnel who didn’t bother to show up included Mayor Cull, CE Bidrose and members of the Executive Leadership Team (RLT). How many elected council representatives turned up —one, Cr Mike Lord (the question was nearly rhetorical although a couple of councillors had forwarded their apologies).

A fortnight ago Mr Johnstone sent a copy of his review to DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose. Notably, it took until the day of the public meeting for Ms Bidrose to acknowledge receipt and respond to the review by letter —DCC made sure to effect personal delivery to Mr Johnson’s home in Macandrew Bay, followed by an electronic copy some time later.

Copies of the review were circulated at the public meeting —these were in some demand!

Following the close of meeting, the reviewer kindly supplied What if? Dunedin with copy for publication.

The following content from consulting engineer Neil Johnstone is provided for your information and convenience. However, the site owner cannot accept any liability for its accuracy or content. Visitors who rely on this information do so at their own risk.

An Independent Review if DCC Report
‘Infrastructure Performance during the June 2015 Flood Event’

1. Having lived most of my life in Dunedin and its environs (though never in South Dunedin), and having had a long career in natural hazard identification and mitigation, I am concerned with the standard of understanding and reporting of current natural hazard issues by our local Councils and, to a lesser extent by Government Agencies. I spent many years as Investigations Engineer at the Otago Catchment Board from 1986, and held a similar position at the Otago Regional Council until 2002. During those years I analysed numerous recent and historic flood events; none was more straightforward than the South Dunedin flood event of June 2015, and many were far more complicated. Now semi-retired, I still operate my own small consultancy.

2. In my opinion the DCC Report might best have been produced by independent experts, or – at the very least – have been subject to rigorous expert peer review. Current “victims” of the in-house reporting approach appear to include residents of South Dunedin who were affected by the June 2015 flood, and the wider population of the city and beyond who have been presented with information of questionable validity.

3. I have no personal interest in the South Dunedin area, but do jointly own a property elsewhere in Dunedin City. This paper only peer reviews DCC’s Report Infrastructure Performance During the June 2015 [Flood] Event. Further reviews of other hazard reports are planned. The reader can access online both DCC’s Report on the June 2015 flood event (referred herein to as “the DCC Report”) and ORC’s report Coastal Otago Flood Event, 3 June 2015 (referred herein to as “the ORC Report”). The latter is frequently referenced in the DCC Report.

4. The DCC Report is lacking in detail and thoroughness. It is short, but neither concise nor accurate, in my view. No reason is given why such a simplistic document took virtually six months to produce. By contrast, an earlier DCC report on the South Dunedin flood of 9 March 1968 took about a week to prepare following that event. My review is intended to provide alternative and more plausible explanations for the flooding experienced in June to those given in the DCC Report and accepted and promoted by some Councillors. I have used almost exclusively data provided by ORC and DCC publications. My approach is reasonably “broad-brushed”, but to a level of accuracy I believe limited only by the quality of data available.

5. Specifically, the DCC Report lacks objectivity in that it:

A. exaggerates the historical significance of the June 2015 rainfall,

B. repeatedly (and contrary to very clear evidence) identifies high groundwater levels as a prime cause of the flooding,

C. fails to discuss why staff did not (apparently) continuously attempt clearance of pumping station screens,

D. fails to adequately address the impacts on total runoff volume of reduced ground surface permeability due to land use change,

E. promotes a simplistic flow volume model that contains a key erroneous assumption,

F. fails to quantify ingress of “foreign” water from other sub-catchments, especially St Clair,

G. refers only briefly to the Shore St (Tainui) sub-catchment, and then fails to note that flooding was much less significant there than in the South Dunedin catchment or to explain the reason why,

H. defends the maintenance performance of mudtanks without providing any supporting evidence.

6. With respect to the above lettered points:

Point A: DCC has persistently exaggerated the significance of recent rainfall in the city. Initial claims regarding the June rainfall had it as a 150-year event, and (with respect to a disadvantaged peninsula property owner) reportedly claimed rainfall intensities increasing by 82% as a result of climate change. Now the June [flood] is stated in the Report to be a 63 year event. Such claims are all substantially in error. Rainfall in the March 1968 event is conceded in the DCC Report to be higher than in June 2015, yet the earlier event is omitted from consideration of flood frequency. Inclusion of the 1968 rainfall must substantially reduce the assessed return period of the 2015 rainfall.

Magnitude of the June 2015 Storm

7. The report unquestioningly accepts Otago Regional Council (ORC) data that suggests the event had a 63-year return period. (Previously DCC had been claiming anything up to a 150-year event). The ORC analysis stated that the June 2015 24-hour rainfall (140mm) was the second-highest recorded, well below the 1923 event (229mm). ORC seemingly did not include the March 1968 24-hour rainfall (158mm) in its calculations. That event is known to the writers of the DCC Report (it is described in the 1968 flood report), but is omitted from current consideration without explanation. If the 1968 flood is included in calculations, it is difficult to make a case for the 2015 rainfall being greater than a 30-year event.

8. Also, while the 1929 24-hour rainfall at Musselburgh was lower than the 1923, 1968 and 2015 events, it nevertheless produced a 6-hour intensity of 51mm. This is more than 10% greater than the June 2015 6-hour rainfall (45mm).

My conclusion: The Report’s claim that the June 2015 rainfall had a return period of 63 years remains a substantial over-estimate. A figure of 20-30 years is more defendable, particularly if rainfall durations shorter than 24 hours are considered, as they should be.

Point B: The Impeding Effect of High Groundwater Levels on Infiltration

9. Groundwater level data relied on by the report is sourced solely from ORC bore installations at four South Dunedin locations (Kennedy Street, Culling Park, Tonga Park and Bathgate Park). The data is produced graphically and descriptively in the ORC report (pages 25-30 and figures 21-24).

10. The DCC Report states “During the June event, observations from the Otago Regional Council of the groundwater conditions prior to and during the event show that the groundwater was elevated prior to the event and actually reached the surface at several of the South Dunedin monitoring bores”. In my view the statement is inadequate as it fails to clearly represent the magnitudes, timing and cause of groundwater level rise. The ORC report in fact indicates that:

• GW levels at Kennedy Street were just 0.071 (0.674 minus 0.603)m above average before the flood event, but rose 0.997m during the event, and peaked 0.261m above ground level.

• GW levels at Tonga Park were just 0.087 (0.644 minus 0.557)m above average before the flood event, but rose 0.722m during the event, and peaked 0.346m above ground level.

• GW levels at Culling Park were just 0.123 (0.198 minus 0.075)m above average before the flood event, but rose 0.707m during the event and peaked just above ground level (by 0.075m).

• GW levels at Bathgate Park were just 0.062 (0.751 minus 0.689)m above average before the flood event, but rose 0.238m during the event, and peaked a full 0.532m below ground level.

The small rises in groundwater levels before the main rainfall event are in all four cases attributed by ORC to minor rainfalls that occurred on 12 and 26 May.

11. Figures 21-24 of the ORC report appear to demonstrate that groundwater levels did not reach ground levels until the June 2015 rainfall event was well advanced. I have requested hourly data from ORC to verify this point, and am awaiting that information. In any case, the advent of surface water on playing fields does not necessarily indicate a cessation of infiltration; it simply signifies that rain water has fallen at a rate faster than can be fully absorbed. When the rain reduces or ceases, infiltration rates exceed rainfall and levels drop.

12. The coincident rise in groundwater levels with rainfall demonstrates conclusively that there was substantial infiltration taking place throughout the majority of the rainfall event. The infiltration caused groundwater levels to rise, as should be expected. There was no hindrance to infiltration caused by pre-existing groundwater levels, contrary to DCC’s claims. The most obvious of conclusions is that groundwater levels rose simply and solely as a result of direct infiltration of rainfall. DCC’s oft-repeated claim of impeded (to zero) infiltration is without foundation. Key paragraphs 2 and 5 (both from the “Executive Summary”) of the DCC Report are therefore misleading and/or irrelevant, as are paragraphs 36, 40, 54, 55, 56, 57, 62 and 66. The DCC Report provides no evidence to back its conclusions on this issue.

13. Given that the claim of high groundwater’s impact on flood levels attained in June 2015 can be shown to be entirely without foundation, it is disappointing that ORC has not publicly corrected DCC’s misconceptions. Paragraph 65 of the DCC Report states that “Staff have had initial discussions with ORC …. to assist with improving understanding of the relationships between stormwater and groundwater in South Dunedin”. ORC data clearly show that groundwater levels were driven by rainfall via infiltration; DCC’s unilateral approach is that groundwater prevented infiltration and therefore maximised stormwater quantities. The views are mutually inconsistent. ORC’s conclusions are supported by indisputable data. It is not convincing that the DCC Report should claim zero infiltration as the prime cause of flooding, only to later concede a need to understand the relationships better. It may have been helpful if there had been a summary of the outcome of discussions between the two Councils included in the Report.

Point C: The Partial Blockage of the Portobello Road Pumping Station Screens

14. Note: available pipe network storage is stated in the DCC Report to be a “highly relevant factor”, but the network is in fact demonstrated to contribute a mere 21,000 cubic metres of storage, compared with a total of almost 800,000 cubic meters of rain that fell on the South Dunedin catchment.

15. The performance of the screens is referenced in paragraphs 4, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 61 & 63 of the DCC Report. It can be interpreted that maintenance staff chose – or were instructed – to push debris lower on to the screens rather than persevere with attempting the apparently more difficult task of removing it. This approach may have tended to have ensured that the pump system could never operate at full capacity. It is stated that operators attended the site “frequently” throughout the event. Surely there should have been a 100% attendance and effort to maximise screen clearance? The report should have presented a log of man-hours worked at the pump station during the critical period.

16. The report states that a “high level” report has been received to redesign the screens at a cost of $500,000. This seems an unduly significant sum, especially as recent work has recently been undertaken to improve access to the screens for cleaning, according to the Three Waters Strategy of 2012 (page 47). The report should have explained why such expenditure is planned, rather than ensuring that current maintenance staff have adequate training and equipment to keep the screens cleared.

Point D: Increased Impermeability of the South Dunedin Catchment

17. The transition of permeable land to impermeable in recent decades is emphasised as a factor in the report; yet elsewhere the report insists that high ground water levels prevented infiltration anyway. If groundwater levels prevented infiltration, surface conditions would be irrelevant.

18. Paragraph 35 of the DCC Report notes that the drainage network now needs to accommodate 60% of rainfall as runoff, compared with 45.7% half a century or so ago, as a result of changes of land use. The report does not develop the considerable significance of this issue. Considering the June 2015 event: 140mm of rain falling on the South Dunedin catchment (570 ha) produced a total of 798,000 cubic metres of water. Originally, the drainage network would have had to accommodate 365,000 cubic metres (45.7$%) of that water; by June 2015 that requirement would have risen to 479,000 (60%) cubic metres – an additional 114,000 cubic metres. This additional amount of water, distributed over the main identified flooded area (75 ha) would elevate flood levels by 150mm.

Point E: The Pump Flow “Model”

19. The approach utilised of comparing flow volumes is valid, but the assumption of zero infiltration is entirely without foundation, as demonstrated earlier in this review. Figure 4 of the DCC Report appears to assume a maximum continuous flow performance of around 6.3 cubic metres per second. This would assume no pumping station screen blockage and sufficiently clear mudtank grates to allow delivery of that rate of flow. Perfect performance is not usually attainable, and a through-flow of say 5.8 cubic metres per second might not be considered a failure. Figure 6 of the DCC Report suggests however that the volume pumped rarely attained 5.5 cumecs and averaged only about 4.5 cumecs. There was thus a deficit of at least 1.3 cumecs over a 32-hour timeframe. This meant that some 150,000 cubic metres of water was unable to be cleared because of partial screen blockage and (possibly) mudtank blockage. Distributed over the 75 ha flooded area, this would have elevated peak flood levels by approximately 200mm.

20. The spikes in pump output performance shown in the report’s figure 6 almost certainly indicate periodic if limited success in clearing the pump screens. Based on that interpretation, screen clearing does not appear to have been attempted until close to noon on 3 June. Then for approximately 5 hours between 3.30pm and 8.30pm no clearing appears to have been achieved, and possibly not attempted. Belatedly, from about 8.30pm until about noon the following day, fairly intensive efforts appear to have been made with some success.

Point F: Cross-Catchment Flow From St Clair Catchment

21. The DCC Report emphasises that such flow did occur, and appears to portray this as a super-design situation. While the amount of inflow from St Clair is understandably not known, it does need to be appreciated that such flow also occurred in March 1968 (and is referenced in the 1968 flood report). The 3 Waters Report appears to acknowledge that there is a cross-connection that allows St Clair flows to enter the South Dunedin stormwater system in addition to any overland cross-catchment flow that may also eventuate. This would suggest that DCC has allowed South Dunedin to be subject to flood risk for which there has been no compensating/mitigating stormwater infrastructure design.

Point G:

22. The ORC Report (page 23) notes that comparatively little flooding was experienced in the lowest part of South Dunedin at Tainui relative to the rest of the catchment, and suggests that further work is required to identify the reason for this. To me, at least some reasons (plural) are obvious. Firstly, the Tainui area does not drain to, or rely on, the underperforming Portobello Road Pump Station (its outfall is apparently into the Andersons Bay inlet). Secondly, there has to my knowledge been little or no development over recent decades in the Tainui area of the sort that would reduce the potential for infiltration. Thirdly, there would have been little or [no] impact of St Clair catchment overflow reaching Tainui. That is, the three aggravating causes of the 2015 flood event in South Dunedin as identified by me were all absent in the Shore Street (Tainui) sub-catchment.

23. When questioned on the Tainui “anomaly” at a Council meeting following the release of their report, DCC staff could apparently only suggest that rainfalls in the Tainui area were possibly less than across the rest of South Dunedin. No evidence to support this notion has ever been presented, to my knowledge.


24. The DCC Report has proposed reasons for the extensive flooding of South Dunedin that concentrate on the impact of elevated groundwater levels prior to the event. ORC reporting – possibly misinterpreted by DCC – make it clear that high groundwater did not exist until the rain came. Groundwater levels are a consequence, not a cause. Persistent and unjustified references to high groundwater levels are both misleading and counterproductive given the inclination of some within the wider community to attribute the event to climate change/rising sea level scenarios. The DCC Report – and its apparent internal acceptance – suggests that the organisation may be suffering from a phenomenon known as Scenario Fulfilment Syndrome. This is typically characterised by information that does not conform to prior interpretation (in this case, the impact of claimed high groundwater levels) simply being ignored, prematurely discarded, or put in the “too hard basket”.

25. In my view, the under-performance of the pumping station (certainly) and mudtank* (possibly) systems raised surface flood levels by a combined 200mm plus, and the allowed changes in land permeability contributed a further 150mm. Mudtank* problems could be expected to have caused local flooding issues, at least. The contribution from cross-catchment flows is likely to be significant but is indeterminate, as no data is presented in the DCC Report.

*It is emphasised that no data on mudtank performance is contained in the DCC Report. As a result, mudtank performance is not assessed in this peer review.

26. Had June 2015 flood levels been lower by 350mm (150 caused by land use change, plus 200 caused by infrastructure-related issues) in the June event, it is likely that the impact of flooding would have been substantially reduced, and probably little different from that which occurred during the broadly comparable rain event of 9 March 1968. South Dunedin residents affected by the June 2015 flood event may consider to what extent they were – and presumably still are – disadvantaged by DCC actions, inactions, misinformation and attitude.



Related Posts and Comments:
● 2.3.16 DCC compels extensions on LGOIMA requests #SouthDunedinFlood
26.2.16 Mudtanks and drains + Notice of Public Meeting #SouthDunedinFlood
● 21.2.16 DCC…report (30.11.15) subject to ‘internal review’ only…
● 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


Filed under Business, Construction, DCC, Democracy, Design, District Plan, Dunedin, Economics, Events, Geography, Heritage, Hot air, Infrastructure, Name, New Zealand, Ombudsman, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Proposed 2GP, Resource management, Site, South Dunedin, Town planning, Transportation, Travesty, Urban design, What stadium

65 responses to “Johnstone independent review of DCC report #SouthDunedinFlood

  1. Lyndon Weggery

    Sitting next to Elizabeth at this meeting and listening to the speeches and comments from the floor it is clear that DCC have utterly failed to address the problems of adequate drainage in South Dunedin. As one of the speakers from the floor said they took a huge risk in doing away with their in-house engineering services and contracting it out. But the good news is that like with the St Clair Action Group (which is making good steady progress with Council on the sea wall and Middle Beach sand dunes) a similar group will emerge out of last night’s meeting to do (hopefully) parallel work with Council, to at long last address the problems of inadequate stormwater drainage and ageing infrastructure. It was not lost on last night’s meeting that all is in vain to protect South Dunedin unless the Middle Beach sand dunes are protected. That’s where the two Groups will be linked and hopefully learn to work closely with each other.

  2. Peter

    It sounds like this meeting in South Dunedin went very well. Rather disappointing that no one from the DCC turned up. Many would call this gutless. I wonder if there was an order out to not attend and thereby face difficult questions which could put the DCC further into the Insurance gun?

    Dave Cull actually has done a disservice to Climate Change proponents by jumping the gun and attributing the South Dunedin flood to CC when there are obviously also maintenance upkeep problems with aging infrastructure. His flippant comments don’t help build the case. Plus, talk of an endgame for South Dunedin is somewhat premature when he obviously doesn’t have all the facts and various possible solutions close at hand.

    This is typical of the kind of glib talk you get from politicians who feel impelled to provide solutions….quickly….when they are still obviously in the dark about what might really need to be done. We get this time and again… as with the stadium which was meant to lift Dunedin out of the economic doldrums and be part of a game changer for a Bright New Future. We get the same from the Oil and Gas people who seem to have a solution not necessarily borne out by objective facts, and the reality, seen elsewhere, when economic developments don’t go anywhere near the potential envisaged.

    • Elizabeth

      Peter, as you can imagine Mayor Cull was not flavour of the month at last night’s meeting – given his comments on managed retreat etc are felt to have already stiffed property values! ( maybe he wants to pick up some cheap property and put his builder’s apron on again in forced retirement from politics this year!?)

      Another thing, DCC came in for little praise throughout the meeting. One gentleman went so far as to motion a vote of no confidence in Dunedin City Council – unfortunately those leading the meeting fudged meeting procedure at that point and when a vote was later put the motion was defeated. Had I felt eligible to vote as a South Dunedin resident I would have voted for the motion. But it was not my place to be voting on directions the meeting wanted to explore. Further meetings are planned and the expectation is that DCC should be present at the next one. We’ll see if staff and elected raise the courage to support their constituents!

    • Gurglars

      Build the case!

      Peter are you suggesting that inferring that 97% of climate change scientists support the concept that climate change is a result of man does not mean that the “case” has not been slightly or dare I suggest it mightily oversold the case that man causes climate change?

      The vast swings and roundabouts of climate change over a myriad of centuries suggest that man has had little effect compared with the major natural effects which have occurrec over aeons.
      Man’s “wish” to be involved, blamed or involved constitutes megolomania at its worst.

      At times, the majority of man has believed in the valuation of tulips being 200 times the value of gold, that the earth was flat, that the sun revolved around the earth and that now man has caused climate change.

      It is the smart minority, Peter that one should follow, not the humans who like lemmings or sheep will believe the vociferous tear-shedding minority, many who have a vested interest in the majority believing this mantra.

      I include Al Gore, and scientists employed by the various states and universities holding to these irrational tneories.

      In these pages are many extremely well educated and rational scientists who demonstrate the self serving analysis often trumped up which sets the scene for the global warming cultural beliefs of green and primary school brainwashed acolytes that are leading the climate change green attack.

      • Elizabeth

        Shortly this evening, a post re Professor Robert M. Carter who died on 19 January.

        • Gurglars

          Carter, not only a scientist involved in climate [he?] refutes anthomorphic climate change, but also a rationalist, a man with common sense, apparently uncommon in climate scientists if the 97% is true.

          Of course this postulate has been debunked also by some others with the uncommon “common sense”.

          {Let us know what the word in brackets we’ve guessed at should be – you originally typed ‘thae’. -Eds}

      • russandbev

        The answer as I’ve said many times is to follow the money.

        Here we go in a succinct way.

        The earth’s climate has changed for millions of years.

        Why it does so on its various frequencies is neither understood, or explained with any surety.

        Man-made climate change is being driven by people who can make large amounts of money.

        Fools, or those wishing to escape accountability, clutch to man-made climate change, to absolve themselves.

        There is a BIG difference between weather events and gradual climate change.

        Here endeth the lesson…

      • Peter

        I am more of the view there is something real about climate change, but that isn’t to say I am some apostle for the case. I leave that to people who are more credible with their knowledge than myself.
        An element of hysteria and righteousness is evident from both sides. I don’t believe in end games etc, but neither do l follow those who seem ‘relaxed’ about Man’s major impact on the planet.
        I will only be pleased in the fullness of time if the skeptics case is correct. But I wouldn’t put my money on it.
        As for Dave Cull’s quick fire comments on CC being the source of SD flooding, I was just saying he is doing a disservice to those more knowledgeable to him on CC. I distrust fundamentalism. He should be more considered in his opinions instead of shooting his mouth off as is his wont.

      • Aeons! Vast aeons of Time. This is a word from Gnosticism, the great Greek ancient philosophy, Aeons. I like your rational Science, but, it is one part of Truth. Your post is polemic, which I respect. Why are you so convinced you are right? Your evidence is from Science, and no other Source. La Source: The Spring. This is not a Green primary school graduate brainwashed by Creationism. They think they have all the answers too.

        • Gurglars

          The problem with the acolytes’ beliefs, Brownestudy, is that they are based, punctuated and sustained by evidence that has been debunked.

          The graphs of climate change and the amplitudes of such change over Aeons! demonstrates that climate change is inevitable, ongoing and unstoppable.

          There is no doubt that humans have introduced plastic bags, that such bags are an ecological nightmare in the Pacific and the Sargasso sea.

          There is no doubt that humans introduced petrol burning vehicles that could change the climate, or that cows farting could also have an affect.

          But just as humans cannot stop climate change all they are introducing is possibly different forms of climate change.

          As George Carlin maintains, the Earth is fine, the planet will sort itself out.

          It’s the self-interested persons who wish to eliminate all meat eating animals and the raising of them and utilising assets such as oil, a natural product which mankind has used to accelerate civilisation that bothers me. There will be a finite point at which fossil fuels cease to exist or are so expensive that people invent other means of propulsion and farming methods.

          Humans have demonstrated that they are on a search for a better life without lions eating them, being able to visit places farther than they can walk, developing crops which can be stored and fed on when droughts or floods intervene in a subsistence existence.

          To imagine that people will stop developing ideas is to ensure that they will be fighting each other over ever diminishing resources.

          There is a solution sometimes offered by the greens, eliminate some of the people.

          But who? And Who will pull the trigger?

          Hitler, Stalin or the greens.

  3. Diane Yeldon

    Much thanks to Neil Johnstone for his voluntary work in the public interest on this. Independent peer reviews of local government reports are an excellent idea. Local government in New Zealand is pretty much a closed shop, with the same consultants and experts getting a reputation merely by having got the jobs initially and then becoming the ‘go to’ people. And the fact that they are paid by the council, who they do the report for, must affect their impartiality. Who wants to offend the boss? – especially regarding contract work because, as a result, you may not get another contract.

    A person claiming to be acting purely in the public interest may not be independent either but New Zealand has a well enough educated and informed public for such independent peer reviews from qualified and experienced people, especially those with local knowledge to be thoroughly scrutinized and compared with the council reports to the benefit of everyone.

    I have often wondered how a university city like Dunedin, with so many extremely well-qualified people in all sorts of different areas, could have had such bad local government in terms of the decisions made (especially financial) and the reports written on which the expenditure was ostensibly based. Too often, it has been seemed to be precisely the other way round, with the expenditure determined and the reports merely cooked up to justify it.

    I am a fan of consensus decision-making but not because it’s intended to be nice to everybody. On the contrary, real consensus decision-making is extremely confrontational, with all parties being totally honest about what they think about a situation and saying so to all other involved parties to their face (no grouchy whispering behind backs!), making sure they are properly understood, and making sure that they, in turn, listen and understand the other parties’ point of view. After that, all parties need to show goodwill to each other in a co-operative effort to find a course of action which is acceptable to all. It may sound idealistic but it can be done – by mature people of any age.

    South Dunedin was asking for a library and community centre when I arrived and, fifteen years later, they still haven’t got it. About time to give this sector of Dunedin their fair share of the pie – whichever way they want to slice it.

    • We have received a shout out from a Mr Al Pacasino, presently pacing up and down outside South Centre: “Library! Library! Attica! Attica!”

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Of all the city suburbs except City Rise, South Dunedin is closest to the existing Dunedin Public Library and has the most direct bus service, or flat walking and cycling to and fro. The library is an old grievance of little relevance except for its totemic significance. It is brought out and waved as a broken promise, emblematic of all the other (more relevant needs) examples of neglect.

  4. Gurglars

    Scenario Fulfilment Syndrome!

    A recently declared medical event in which crocodile tears are shed should monies not be spent on cycleways, sustainable Dunedin gardens to feed Castle street, flatrenters, all council errors blamed on global warming or climate change or Al Gore or Lee Vandervis.

    The cure.

    Locate Zealots, do not elect them in the October council elections or any other public elections and ensure that DCC staff numbers are cut so Zealotry can be disestablished and persons capable of solving Dunedin’s apparently complex issues like engineering and administrating mudtank clearing contracts are given priority over writing esoteric complex 2gp plans and copious reports which lead to more salary wasting and obfuscation.

  5. Rob Hamlin

    I think one of the most fascinating comments in the peer review is that the DCC report after the Nineteen Sixties event was completed and available in one week!

    This was of course before computer, word processors, mobile phones, video conferencing, outsourcing, corporatisation and the Web improved our ‘efficiency’!

  6. Gurglars

    None of those, but fairly paid public servants with an attitude of proudly working for the ratepayers not the empire.

  7. Calvin Oaten

    The one thing that comes through loud and clear to me with the Johnstone Report is the council’s inability to understand, let alone mitigate future risk of South Dunedin flooding. I have long held the belief that this destroying of in-house engineering expertise by the Harland reign would come to haunt the city in all manner of ways. Now we are beholden to people with little or no understanding of the history or strategies required and thus are reliant on consultants, contractors (even from another city, Christchurch) who all have conflicts of interests, being first and foremost profit orientated. This puts the city at dire risk as amply demonstrated by the June 2015 floods. Ineptly led by a Mayor with little but ‘Climate Change’ (a totally unproven concept) to cling to as the reason for the poor South Dunedin residents’ discomfort and financial agonies.

    {Moderated, actionable.
    The people of South Dunedin hold very similar views to yourself Calvin. They voiced them last night at the meeting – OUT LOUD, IN PUBLIC. WITH CROWD APPLAUSE. -Eds}

  8. Elizabeth

    Curran: The flooding in South Dunedin on June 3 last year “just should not have happened – and we have yet to find out why it did”.

    ### ODT Online Tue, 8 Mar 2016
    South Dunedin residents vocal over perceived neglect
    By Carla Green
    ….The meeting, held at The Nations Church in King Edward St, was organised by Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran to set up a “South Dunedin Protection Group”. […] her speech was followed by presentations from panel members, semi-retired surveyor Bruce Hendry, semi-retired engineer Neil Johnstone, Bathgate Park principal Whetu Cormick, resident Rebecca Fitzgerald, business owner Justin Stott and…. *
    They spoke about the various infrastructural and logistical issues that faced South Dunedin as the floods hit – the suburb’s mud tanks and pumping system; the civil defence response.
    Read more

    ● Multiple speakers called on DCC to “stop spending money on cycleways we don’t need” and spend the money instead on drainage.
    ● Questions critical of Mr Cull and the DCC attracted the most applause.

    *[Ms Lonie was about to be booed off the stage! – a poor choice of speaker, and not worthy of news mention.]

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Wasn’t Bridie Lonie introduced as having requested to be included as a speaker because of her (burble witter blither) “work” on the role of the arts in healing traumatised communities, or somesuch? She is richly endowed with conviction that whatever she thinks or does is of interest, nay relevance, to others, which is probably why she was immune to the tone of the meeting, the expressed concerns of speakers and audience. There’s a place for arty solipsists, and it’s far far away from people whose need is for practical solutions to real problems. Those poor blighters had already had their time wasted comprehensively during the flood and in the aftermath, that’s (apparently) the DCC, mayor and councillors’ job.

      Inspirational coordination of a South Dunedin creative all comers freeform water-ballet troupe can wait. And when they want it I’m sure they’ll manage to do it for themselves – and paint the posters illustrating its relevance to climate change, too. Meanwhile – what about the drains, eh?

      • Creatives. Course, we flap around annoying the Practical, but that’s our Manner, and, possibly, abrasive purpose. Also, are you not aware of the highly regarded Lonie Dynasty? No ineffectuals, I assure you.

  9. Elizabeth

    Received from Lyndon Weggery
    Tues, 8 Mar 2016 at 7:13 a.m.

    This latest report updates progress with fixing the Middle Beach sand dunes.

    Tonkin and Taylor (T&T)
    Ocean Beach – Hold the Line Remedial Work Options
    2 December 2015

    2015.12.02 Final Version RH Memo on hold the line options R6 (PDF, 4 MB)

    via Richard Saunders, DCC Group Manager Parks, Recreation and Aquatics

  10. JimmyJones

    Neil Johnstone’s peer review will be severely unwanted by the DCC who spent bucket-loads of our money and many months of time preparing the flooding communications plan to convince us that it wasn’t the DCC’s fault. Part of this plan was apparent in the days after the June flood when Dave Cull told us that it was a very severe 1 in 100 year rain event – and then it was a 1 in 150 year event. We now know from Neil Johnstone’s peer review that it was only a feeble 1 in 20 to 30 year rain event.
    An absolutely pivotal part of the carefully constructed DCC infrastructure report is the claim that the flooding was amplified because the South Dunedin groundwater level was very high before the flood. This report is a public relations exercise and was written to reflect the communications plan and that is the reason for this creative and blatantly false assertion. Dave Cull has hammered this point at every opportunity. The significance of it is that we are being asked to believe that because the groundwater level was very high then the flooding wasn’t the fault of the DCC. This fictitious high ground-water level is also being used by the Global Warming evangelists like Cull, Jinters, Benson-Pope, Hawkins and others to try to prove their rapidly rising groundwater theory.
    The high ground-water was fake and dishonest and dreamed up by spin-doctors. Neil Johnstone’s peer review confirms that there was no unusually high ground-water: he says the claim of high groundwater’s impact on flood levels attained in June 2015 can be shown to be entirely without foundation. He also says Persistent and unjustified references to high groundwater levels are both misleading and counterproductive given the inclination of some within the wider community to attribute the event to climate change/rising sea level scenarios.
    This has has been a carefully organized effort to deceive us and we should work towards making sure that this does not continue. Neil Johnstone’s peer review has been very valuable, so thanks to him.

  11. Lyndon Weggery

    For the benefit of those rightly concerned about the state of the Middle Beach Sand dunes this latest T&T Update Report to DCC dated December 2015 is a very important and significant document because the future of South Dunedin depends on their preservation as well. At long last it outlines what needs to be done by way of renewing (and upgrading) the damaged sand sausages that were first installed in 2007. Also it covers the need to repair the Reno mattress further down the beach towards St Kilda.

    For the first time we now have detailed cost estimates amounting to $460,000 for the upgraded “mega bags” and a further $120,000 for the Reno Mattress.

    Although this Holding Pattern work is considered as an “unbudgeted” item in the 2015/16 LTP Budget (I suspect the former $250,000 pa was removed from the 2012 LTP as a “saving measure”) Cr Jinty McTavish (Chair of the Community and Environment Committee) has assured me by email that as an operational matter Senior Management will find the money from the existing Parks and Reserves Budget and that staff are currently finalising the designs for approval.

    That is good news because if this work is to be completed before the winter storms hit, we have 90 days by the time Jinty’s Committee meets next Tuesday.

    So what needs to be done from a governance point of view on behalf of Ratepayers:
    1. Invite Council endorsement to new design.
    2. Council to affirm availability of $580,000 from existing Budget.
    3. Ensure new “mega bags” are ordered by mid April. Because of the specialised nature of this product there is a 6-8 week lead time for ordering.
    4. Ensure Otago Regional Council consents for renewed Holding Pattern are in place. (Existing consents expired in 2014.)
    5. Arrange re-stocking of sand pile at Moana Rua Rd from Otago Harbour source.
    6. Affirm deadline of mid June (by the latest) to complete installation.

    As everyone can see this is a tight schedule and should be viewed by DCC as top priority. Councillors cannot afford to muck this up as the stakes are too high.

    It’s not about interfering in operations – it’s about exercising good governance based on the following principles:
    1. Making a Strategy.
    2. Providing policy (rules and guidelines).
    3. Appointing people to carry out the plan.
    4. Making staff accountable.
    5. Measuring performance.
    6. Making sure risks are managed.

    Unfortunately Councillors are not getting regular updates to be able to govern well in this area, nor (to date) is there any indication this item will be on next Tuesday’s Agenda. So if the Councillors are not being regularly briefed neither is the general public through the ODT.

    I proposed to rectify this information gap with 5 minutes at next Tuesday’s Public Forum, suggesting to the Committee that this work be put on the monthly Agenda for an update so that Councillors can monitor progress and be satisfied that the promised mid June deadline will be met. Simply put, if they get regular staff updates so do the rest of us through the normal ODT reporting.

    This is a huge test for Council. Get this wrong and last night’s anger over South Dunedin is nothing compared to what voters will express at the ballot box in October.

    • Elizabeth

      Lyndon, you say “It’s not about interfering in operations – it’s about exercising good governance based on the following principles…”

      You left off the top priority and that is for DCC to MANAGE BUDGETS (prudently and conservatively).
      The council weak point extraordinaire.

  12. Elizabeth

    Neil Johnstone’s independent peer review relates to this video recording of when the DCC infrastructure report was tabled:

    Dunedin City Council Published on Dec 7, 2015
    Dunedin City Council – Council Meeting – November 30 2015

    Discussion of the report starts at 1:09:52

  13. Elizabeth

    Barnaby lets rip at ODT Online. Help!

    South Dunedin flooding
    Submitted by Barnaby on Tue, 08/03/2016 – 1:28pm.

    Although I don’t live in South Dunedin I attended Monday’s meeting where I heard for the first time some intelligent analysis of why the June 3, 2015 flooding occured. The expert speakers were hazards expert Neil Johnstone and ex-DCC drainage expert Bruce Hendry, each with over 30 years professional experience.
    The failure of the mayor or even any official DCC representative to attend speaks volumes regarding the contempt with which this event is treated. These experts catagorically lay the blame at the feet of the DCC, as the result of poor management and maintenance. Nothing to do with Global Warming as Mayor Cull would have us believe. Cont/


    Ray Macleod gets to the heart of the matter quickly!

    South Dunedin floods
    Submitted by Ray Macleod on Tue, 08/03/2016 – 5:07pm.

    ….the Mayor in particular is in denial over the appalling performance of the DCC and the requirement to look after the wellbeing of citizens now, not in 90 years time. The subsequent willingness demonstrated by the Mayor, to abandon South Dunedin in a time of great need, can only be described as galling and naive. If the Mayor is not willing to attend such an important meeting one can only encourage him to hang up his mayoral chain and go home. He can take a number of his elected representatives with him. I am happy to provide names. If nothing else the Council has sent a clear message out to its citizens, fortunately in time for the next election, that it is in some ideological fairy land. Cont/


    And dear old ODT Online allows JimmyJones to link to What if? Dunedin for access to Neil Johnstone’s peer review. This is HISTORIC.

    Peer review of DCC flood report
    Submitted by JimmyJones on Tue, 08/03/2016 – 8:20pm.

    The DCC Flood report seemed to me to be written to try to minimise the responsibility of the DCC for what happened. The recent peer review of the DCC’s report is valuable because the DCC has always avoided any independent investigations into the 2015 flooding. Engineer Neil Johnstone (MIPENZ) did the peer review (read it here) without being asked by the DCC and he found that the report was wrong about many aspects of the flooding event. He notes the lack of independent investigation and the lack of rigorous expert peer review. He says about the DCC report: we “have been presented with information of questionable validity”. […] The peer review concludes that without the DCC’s various infrastructure problems, the June 2015 flood levels would have been lower by 350mm. If this was the case it is likely that the impact of flooding would have been substantially reduced.

    • russandbev

      I would have thought that in the interests of reducing the palpable spin of the DCC and of the crap uttered by the Mayor that the ODT would have been interested in publishing in the print version the entire Johnstone review. It would show that the ODT are not beholden to the DCC. Has Mr Johnstone offered his review for publishing to the ODT?

  14. Rob Hamlin

    The current social acceptablity of lying is a major issue in our society. Lying always benefits the individual at the expense of other individuals within the community. For this reason strong sanctions have traditionally/historically been applied to it, because if they are not, then lying only has an upside for those individuals who practice it.

    Without such sanctions, liars will always do relatively well compared to their peers, will continue to do well and will maintain and expand their lying in terms of both volume and audacity as a rational reaction to such relative success. They will also rapidly spawn imitators for the same reasons.

    Eventually lying reaches a point where effective social, professional, business and political organisation that benefits the community at large becomes impossible. It would appear that we are significantly moving towards this situation.

    The primary defence against lying has always been the aggressive application of a social, rather than legal, sanction. Its effective application is particularly powerful and important among the political, business, professional and social ‘elite’ in any society, who wield disproportionate influence, and to whom social status and acceptance within their communities is essential.

    It is the wider society’s wide assumption that these extra-judicial anti-lying systems exist specifically among the societies of the elite that makes, say, a JP’s signature/word worth more than that of, say, a brickie (Take a look at your next passport application for confirmation of this assumption/ prejudice).

    I these social defence systems against lying among the elite fail, then the entire society is imperilled. One only has to look at recent media reports and the posts on this site to know that we have a major problem with regard to the recent behaviour of members of the elite in New Zealand and elsewhere in the developed World that might be consistent with a fairly generalised failure of this critical social defence system.

    This failure among the elites may or may not be a ‘terminal’ event for the wider societies within which they reside.

    • ChCh Observer

      Rob, I fear the horse has bolted. Many of the “elite” (please don’t ALL elite take offence) appear to embrace the concept of lying; it gets them further ahead as you say. It also increases the gap between the rich and poor (under your analysis the dishonest and honest). Lawyers and corporates are apparently less trusted than brickies for example.

      I read a recent court ruling where the judge (a former lawyer of course) considered the fraud was not a fraud if it was committed by the company for “commercial reasons”. If a private individual committed the same massive fraud it appeared they would head to jail. Does this mean the elite in society have got to the point where they find it acceptable for them and other elite to lie, but not for the not-elite to lie???? We are in sad times.

      Some one said “for the bad to succeed just requires the good people to do nothing”. I hope the good people on dry ground get behind those [affected].

      {Moderated. Eds}

  15. ChCh Observer

    I’ve since googled “Scenario Fulfilment Syndrome” and found the following. I’ve added (in brackets) to correlate to the alleged council “Syndrome” here:-

    “The Scenario Fulfilment Syndrome refers to a scenario where people (council) are indoctrinated so thoroughly to expect a hostile act (compliant) from their enemies (ratepayers) that they see it when it is not occurring. Such an event occurred in 1988 aboard the USS Vincennes where the crew (council) mistook an Iranian Airbus airplane on a routine flight for a jet fighter on an attack dive (complaint). It cost the lives of nearly 300 innocent civilians (ratepayers).”

    From the above description the “Syndrome” relates to a “scenario” where people (council) are indoctrinated to “see something that is NOT occurring”. So respectfully, this is NOT the “scenario” here.

    The council DID see an ACTUAL and justified attack coming from innocent ratepayers.

    Innocent civilians (ratepayers) had just cause to fly into the council to complain. It’s wrong for the council to shoot them down. Council should account truthfully to its ratepayers for its failings and apologise and make good accordingly. ALL ratepayers expect that, even those not affected by a particular failing.

    Shame on the DCC and other councils like Christchurch City Council that do the same. CCC shot down innocent ratepayers by oppressing their legal rights and lying to cover up physical dangers in grossly non-complying roads CCC had permitted DELTA to construct without consent (at Noble Yaldhurst Christchurch). CCC caused huge losses to individuals that had to fight against CCC to bring the dangers to CCC’s attention. CCC then refused to pay the debt caused by its actions, and continued to oppress those affected.

    Mayor Cull (in the meeting video) was precise in his directions and closing down of Councillors.

    {Moderated. -Eds}

  16. Lyndon Weggery

    Just arrived home after walking the suburb to St Clair Beach. We came across WasteTech with a suction truck in Norfolk St doing a great job cleaning out a local mud tank with “traditional” thoroughness. In conversation with the workers I asked what was their role in South Dunedin before 3 June 2015? They said they cleaned some mudtanks on the Flat but only those on the list as provided by Fulton Hogan!!! Sounds like a none too comprehensive list was provided by the DCC contractor thereby effectively limiting the scope of maintenance and cleaning of all Mudtanks on the Flat prior to the Flood. I leave readers to draw their own conclusions in the light of what the DCC led us to believe immediately after the June 2015 Flood.

  17. Gurglars

    Not Hype, if the council contract specified “random” cleaning.

    Which of course would again place the DCC in the gun for the South Dunedin floods, a place which an ever larger section of the Dunedin populace is placing them.

  18. Lyndon Weggery

    Elizabeth – just seen the Community and Environment Committee Agenda for next Tuesday posted on the Council website and no mention of Middle Beach Sand Dunes. Even though this is regarded by Council as an “operational” matter you would have thought with all the publicity that requesting an update would have been an Agenda item in itself. As I will politely remind them next week they have 90 days to make sure this task is completed.

    {Links added. -Eds}

  19. JimmyJones

    Here is an example of what Rob was talking about. This is from Dave Cull’s Facebook (2/12/15):
    High groundwater levels were the major factor in the June 2015 floods and restricted the ability for rainwater to drain away. Consequently the storm-water network was overwhelmed. Indications are that increases in sea level will lift base groundwater levels and these floods will occur more often. So climate change is impacting our community now.

    We have known for a while that there was no unusually high groundwater levels before the flood and Mr Johnstone’s peer review emphasizes this point. High groundwater levels were not the major factor because there were no high groundwater levels. Dave Cull’s statement (repeated on many occasions) is clearly false, but the question is did he know it was false. In other words was he deluded or dishonest – a fool or a liar?

    It is clear to me that that there is a clear purpose to this misinformation, and that is to shift the blame away from the actions of the DCC under the leadership of Mayor Cull. Because he has been the primary messenger then I believe that Dave Cull was fully aware that in spreading this information that he was trying to save the reputation of the DCC.

    {Moderated. -Eds}

  20. Elizabeth

    The future of South Dunedin is not up for debate. It is a valuable part of Dunedin, just like any other region of the city.

    ### ODT Online Tue, 8 Mar 2016
    South Dunedin needs some love from city
    By Andrew Whiley [Councillor]
    OPINION It is amazing how the future of South Dunedin has become such a political issue since the flood of June 3, 2015. […] It is a great community, with a vital shopping area, wonderful schools and proud citizens. It is a valuable area that just needs attention with the appropriate investment in services and maintenance. In my opinion, the flood of June 3 was exacerbated by the poor maintenance of the mud tanks and the issues around the Portobello Rd pumping station. The mud tank report has yet to come to the council but any resident in the area will tell you there was an issue with maintenance.
    Read more

  21. Elizabeth

    The following document was offered to What if? Dunedin by Sandy Graham, Group Manager Corporate Services on Tuesday following a meeting attendance.

    Received from Kristy Rusher [DCC Manager Civil and Legal, Civic]
    Thu, 10 Mar 2016 at 5:12 p.m.

    Dunedin City Council Review of Independent Review by Neil Johnstone

    [click to enlarge]
    DCC Letter - Sue Bidrose to Neil Johnstone 7.3.16South Dunedin Catchment Stormwater Drainage Network Fig 4-13 SDICM Plan

    █ Download: DCC Letter – Sue Bidrose to Neil Johnstone 7.3.16 SC2200115516030710180 (PDF, 510 KB)

  22. Anonymous

    Strewth – they didn’t bugger about on that response. Quite unlike their previous one. Does this also suggest the Chief Executive Officer of Dunedin City Council is once again communicating with the citizenry? Seems to have been really quiet lately.

    • Elizabeth

      DCC delivered their response to the peer review on the day of the public meeting held at South Dunedin. Funny that.

      Neil Johnstone is preparing his considered response to CE Bidrose – he has been dealing with an electricity outage on the Peninsula in the middle of this work.

  23. russandbev

    I hope that Neil can deliver an equally terse rebuttal. Hopefully the issue of Cull’s climate change nonsense can be dealt with for once and for all. Mind you, he might be busy saddling up his horse to ride round the shire in his 3 cornered hat a deux.

  24. Elizabeth

    Thu, 10 Mar 2016 at 9:48 p.m.



    I mailed Dr Bidrose a copy of my peer review around 19 February. No reply (or acknowledgement) was received until a hand-delivered response was dropped in my letterbox around lunchtime on 7 March. Incidentally, this was the day on which I had been invited to address a public meeting on the South Dunedin flood issue. This belated delivery-in-haste has no doubt cost the ratepayer unnecessarily, where an 80 cent stamp would have sufficed.

    About 4pm the same day, an electronic version of the same letter arrived by email, about an hour before I was due to depart for the meeting.

    Dr Bidrose’s response is noteworthy in many respects, but mostly in an unconvincing manner. It seems peculiar that a non-technical person (Dr Bidrose) should write what is essentially a (pseudo) technical response, stated to be on the advice of “staff”, who are unnamed. Technical responses in circumstances such as these from anonymous sources can surely have little standing?

    In response to Topic A: Rainfall Return Period

    Dr Bidrose relies on discrediting the reliability of rainfall data for the March 1968 event. Removing it from consideration is tantamount to pretending it didn’t exist. It did. There has never been any doubt concerning the integrity of the data. It was meticulously recorded by the Met Service at Musselburgh. The hourly rainfall data is tabulated unambiguously in the DCC report of the March 1968 flood event. It is almost impossible for a 24-hour event not to occur over more than one day; data is data and, once published cannot be discarded for convenience. It is a matter of indisputable record that 158mm of rain was recorded (hourly) between 8pm on the 8th March 1968 and 8pm on the 9th. Mr David Stewart of RainEffects Ltd who has regularly consulted to DCC judged the 2015 rainfall to be a 30-50 year event, and Dr Nicolas Cullen of the University of Otago’s Department of Geography has estimated it as 30 year event.

    Furthermore, Dr Bidrose’s explanation of how the City’s original 150 year rainfall estimate eventuated does not seem consistent with HIRDS tabulations that I have at hand. Dr Bidrose gives no explanation as to how one of her senior managers stated publicly that climate change impacts had caused local rain intensities to increase by 82%.

    In response to Topic B: Interpretation of Groundwater Data

    Dr Bidrose and her unidentified advisers appear not to understand the difference between surface water and ground water. Her reiteration that groundwater reached ground level by 10am is not strictly correct, as ORC data and text demonstrate. ORC has now supplied me – with apologies for their delay – 15 minute groundwater levels at all 4 South Dunedin sites. Groundwater never reached ground level at Bathgate Park, and did not threaten ground level at Kennedy Street until around midnight on 3 June. Dr Bidrose is correct only in respect of Tonga and Culling Parks.

    As noted in my review, the issue of most interest is groundwater levels prior to the event. DCC has controversially used this as an explanation for much of the flooding. The “elevation” of groundwater levels prior to the onset of the rainfall of 3 June is stated by ORC to have likely been caused by earlier minor rainfalls. (Note: by rainfall, not sea level or any other factor). These “elevations” are minor to the point of insignificance when compared to the rises that occurred during the event, as can be deduced from the ORC report’s tabulations and recorded data. Dr Bidrose’s response fails to reference actual levels recorded by ORC both prior to and during the rainfall event. The ORC report shows that prior groundwater levels were above average by just 0.071m, 0.087m, 0.123m and 0.062m at Kennedy Street, Tonga Park, Culling Park and Bathgate Park respectively. During the June 2015 event groundwater levels rose by 0.997m, 0.722m, 0.707m and 0.238m respectively at those locations. The most useful “physical” evidence is perhaps sourced from Bathgate Park, where surface flooding was evident early in the event despite groundwater levels there being well below the ground surface throughout the event. Prior groundwater levels were not high at any location, and they only rose in response to rainfall and infiltration as should always be expected in any catchment. They played no part in the exceptional and unexpected level of floodwaters experienced.

    It should also be noted that the advent of groundwater reaching ground level is not an indicator of zero (or necessarily even reduced) infiltration. Consider the rates at which groundwater dropped once the rain and overflows ceased.

    In any case, the hydraulic performance of the aquifer cannot be demonstrated to have changed since the flood event of March 1968; what has changed is the city’s operation of its own stormwater system, and the allowed loss of infiltration potential as a result of consented developments.

    In Response to Topic C: Blockage of Portobello (sic) Screens

    The screens are of course at the pump station on Portobello Road, behind the Otago Bridge Club, some 15km from Portobello. The same geographical error is made in DCC’s November report.

    Dr Bidrose essentially repeats the incomplete description of how the screens were attended on 3 & 4 June 2015. I have concluded in my original review that no cleaning was attempted until around lunchtime on 3 June (by which time much of the South Dunedin floodable area was becoming awash). Dr Bidrose’s response is silent on this issue. I also deduced in my review that that attendance at the pumping station was intermittent during the afternoon of 3 June; again Dr Bidrose provides no information. Dr Bidrose describes the approach taken in cleaning the screens as pragmatic; I would have thought that allowing debris to build up over the initial 6 hours of a flood so that it became too heavy to lift, and then only attending the screens intermittently once a serious problem was discovered would be far from pragmatic. Of course, had Dr Bidrose confirmed the periods of attendance at the pumping station during the flood event rather than on the dry Friday preceding, such speculation could have been avoided.

    Dr Bidrose’s assertion that “had the earlier access arrangements still been in place, it would still not have been possible to safely clean the screens…” conflicts with paragraph 43 of the 1968 flood report which states that the screens then were able to be cleaned within some hours.

    In Response to Topic D: Changes to Catchment Imperviousness

    Dr Bidrose acknowledges that land use change have affected rates of infiltration, but fails to acknowledge my estimate of its impact on flood levels in June 2015. Consenting of activities that modified runoff should have required compensating stormwater improvements. Such improvements may have formed part of consent conditions, but none has been acknowledged post-2015.

    In Response to Topic E: The Pump Flow “Model”

    Dr Bidrose states that the DCC’s November report concludes that the pumping station issues account for approximately 195mm of flood depth which is close to your own (i.e. my) assessment. I can find no such statement in the published DCC Report. Nevertheless, such a concession calls into question, in my view, DCC’s position of no responsibility for the flooding, even before landuse changes and mudtank issues etc are considered.

    In response to Topic F: Cross Catchment Flow from St Clair Catchment

    Dr Bidrose does not address the topic in her response. She also fails to acknowledge that the designed stormwater system handled the 1968 event much better than the 2015 one, despite the similarity of rainfall volumes. The only condition that was truly “extreme” in 2015 was the depth of flooding.

    In response to Topic G: Tainui Area “Anomaly”

    In respect of catchment boundaries concerning Tainui, the map provided by Dr Bidrose appears to differ significantly from those contained in the November 2015 Report (fig 3) and in DCC’s 3 Waters Strategy (fig 2-1), the sources of my information. There is no reference in the November 2015 report to “difficulties” at the “Tainui” station.

    The relative absence of development that would result in increased runoff in the Tainui catchment should not require “verification”, beyond a 30-minute car journey and a road map.


    • Hype O'Thermia

      This has been most instructive.
      One of the lessons that I personally will never forget is that when choosing someone to bullshit about rain, floods, drains and institutional competence in Dunedin it would be best to choose someone other than Neil Johnstone.
      Someone gullible, someone already enchained by and shackled to fashionable climate change beliefs.

  25. Calvin Oaten

    All that Sue Bidrose’s letter displays is an absence of technical expertise on the subject, relying on unknown staff to concoct disputative ‘claptrap’ in order to dispel Mr Johnstone’s report. It is largely a case of, ‘a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.’ That the DCC is in a cleft stick over this event and the damage caused by shortfalls in care and maintenance, leaves it in a vulnerable liability position. Interesting rebuttals by Mr Johnstone that will spoil tomorrow’s coffee and muffin break in the building.

    • Diane Yeldon

      Yep, it’s a political (or PR) letter, not a technical one. Clearly so because of who signed it. I really wonder about the best decision for the DCC here. Is it to deny all error or fault to avoid being successfully sued? Regardless or whether or not error or fault did, in fact, exist? Can you whistle-blow on YOURSELF and so get immunity from prosecution?

  26. russandbev

    Underlying these responses by the staff at the DCC is the desire or requirement to substantiate the immediate and continued public statements by Mayor Cull that man-made climate change was the prime cause of the flooding. Comes down to who do you believe. Johnstone or Cull?

    • Hype O'Thermia

      russandbev – “who do you believe. Johnstone or Cull?” Gimme a nanosecond to think this one through thoroughly.

  27. Rob Hamlin

    No they won’t Calvin, because Mc.P. and Mc.P.T.V. can be relied upon to take it no further than the ‘offical’ line (Versions 1&2).

  28. Colin

    We get the same denial of expert independent facts from Christchurch City Council’s non-expert CEO’s. When the Independent Safety Audit of Dr Shane Turner and others found the DELTA built non-complying roads in the Christchurch Noble subdivision had “very serious” safety issues that would “very likely” cause “frequent serious injuries and death”, the acting CEO at that time (Jane Parfitt) stated in the full Council Meeting that there was a “suggestion” that the council was consenting unsafe roads, and that that was “simply not so”. A complete and blind unqualified denial of the expert’s findings.

    (For the full story prior to the acting CEO’s blind denial, it should be noted that the developer NIL instructed DELTA, and CCC staff encouraged DELTA, to construct the grossly non-complying unsafe roads without consent. CCC staff then, through suppressing the adversely affected parties legal rights to oppose the non-compliances and dangers, and then tailoring reports to suit the decisions they had already made, ensured the built seriously unsafe roads were retrospectively consented).

    Why do those in power, both council staff and Elected members, think they have a right to misuse that power to defeat their ratepayers by covering up facts and their mistakes/negligence?

    The common thread seems to be because of insurance issues as Mayor Cull made clear in the DCC meeting and elected members made clear in CCC meetings.

    Doesn’t this though just put the cost back on the individual ratepayers that have been affected by the negligence/faults of the council? Surely this is not fair, and that no reasonable other ratepayer not affected by the negligence would want a ratepayer that is affected to burden the council caused costs and losses alone.

    In the case of South Dundenites, it appears DCC’s cover-up excuses are also falsely impacting on their property values – that is grossly unfair. Admitting “we should have done better” it was a “one-off man-made error”, would do much to resolve that major issue.

  29. Elizabeth

    Updated comment Sun 2:37pm

    ODT is to commence a new series of investigative stories about Dunedin, from tomorrow.

    The newspaper leads in with the South Dunedin Flood.
    This includes checking on the welfare of people who have yet to receive insurance payouts.

    [Perhaps the affected people should invoice DCC direct.]

    Reference the first “longform reporting” from ODT Insight via this comment on a related thread.

  30. Elizabeth

    Jesus weeps.

    Comment from the brainwashed and deluded at ODT Online:

    The face of climate change
    Submitted by styly1 on Sat, 12/03/2016 – 8:50pm.

    If I owned an insurance company I would be selling it off about now. More intense weather systems will test our buildings as climate change gains pace.

    For Jinters:
    Car in flood [ March 2013]Car in flood [ March 2013]

  31. Elizabeth

    Dave Cull writes as FeetFirst ? Or a close friend.

    A comment worth reading, instead:

    Foresight is a fine thing
    Submitted by JimmyJones on Sat, 12/03/2016 – 4:30pm.

    FeetFirst: The DCC should not have been a bit surprised about the June flooding since its staff and its Integrated Catchment Management Plans (ICMP) clearly warned DCC management and councillors about the serious deficiencies of the city’s stormwater system. Before the flood, the ICMP for the South Dunedin catchment recognised that the system capability was way below the design target – the target was (and is) designed to cope with a one in ten year rain event, but the assessment was that it could cope with only a one in two year event. This appalling state of affairs is the result of years of underfunding the water renewals program and this means that the citizens of South Dunedin continue to be at risk from the next heavy rain. Our short-sighted DCC councillors have recently approved a draft Annual Plan that actually reduces funding for the stormwater renewals compared to the 2015 LTP.

    You say – “It’s easy, particulary for those who carry no public responsibility, to have a go at others after the fact”. Yes, but it is clear that the DCC has known that the stormwater renewals have been underfunded for several years. It is also clear that it was aware of the poor state of the stormwater systems and so the DCC must have been aware of the ongoing risk of occasional heavy rain with the inevitable flooding of the type that we have seen last year. Our councillors lack the foresight to see past the end of their noses.

    Also, for many years I have been writing comments here complaining about the DCC’s decisions to divert water renewals funding to pay for wasteful projects like the FB Stadium. Here are some:

    DCC edifice complex (2010)

    Trust Us – We’re The DCC (2010)

    Sun power (2011)

    The threat that Dunedin faces is not from your imaginary global warming, it’s primarily from the continuing risk of another flood caused by the unwillingness of Mayor Cull and his councillors and staff to fix the problem.


    • Elizabeth

      Who is this freaking turkey called FeetFirst at ODT Online if it’s not Mayor Dave Cull in drag. His young female protege ? Or is he, hers. Either way FeetFirst is an ilogical unresearched brainwashed BS artist talking fairytale global warming piffle. A lemming-slave to the global corporates PR machine – the end of the world is nigh !!! Yeah right.

      Submitted by FeetFirst on Mon, 14/03/2016 – 10:29am.

      Nighttimejohn: No, I’m not the mayor, but I do appreciate the difficult job local government has to do and don’t appreciate the smears that are under way in comments – I think this is not helpful for rational debate. […] What size dyke should we construct when the upper limits of sea-level rise are truly terrifying and when more hard evidence points to even more extreme climate change impact than currently planned for? […] Many countries are implementing aggressive responses to climate change to mitigate emissions and adapt to our changing world, particularly since the Paris Climate Deal last year. I hope we can work together rather than create an even more conflict ridden and unhelpful environment.
      Read more


      • ChCh Observer

        There is nothing “difficult” about ensuring grates and mud tanks are regularly checked and cleared. Designing and installing a new grill to the pump inlet that can be easily checked and cleared is also not “difficult”. A warning system/alarm in case the pump grill holds back water is also not rocket science.

        The evidence and cover-ups suggest blaming this flood on global warming and (future) sea level rises is akin to blaming house fires on the same phenomena.

  32. Elizabeth

    Parallel events at Australia via Newcastle Herald

    Peter Lewis cartoon gallery 2015 slide #95

    Storm or flood - Peter Lewis cartoon gallery 2015 slide 95 [Newcastle Herald -]


    Canada… floods rise [ruse]

    Floods ruse - blog [via]

    Source: Is our Oldman watershed in a Federal-Provincial tug-of-war? (Dec 9, 2015) Link

    The Oldman Watershed Council (OWC) is a not-for-profit organization that is working in partnership with communities and residents to improve the Oldman River Watershed.

  33. Elizabeth

    As posted at a related thread on Saturday 12.3.16:

    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 []
    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 (
    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:

    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.
    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’ 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. [ends]

  34. Calvin Oaten

    Bruce Hendry ought to be offered a consultancy position whereby his knowledge and experience can be accessed and actioned. It would be worth untold thousands of dollars just to have that oversight and ‘common sense’. Likely? Not in a month of sundays.

    • Christchurch Observer

      His knowledge and truth’s would cost DCC a fortune. Mayor Cull told his councillors in the full meeting NOT to expose facts that would jeopardise DCC’s insurance policy – much better to cover-up and make those affected pay and suffer losses in property values as a result of the falsehoods repeated by DCC.

  35. Christchurch Observer

    Reading the private report requested in the LGOIMA (of Bruce Hendry and Trevor Williams) its clear DCC did not “stand up to scrutiny” as DCC twisted the private report to mean.

    Even if the private report did find some “numbers” and some “analysis” in the DCC report that they agreed with, it certainly does not agree with the outcome – i.e. it said sea level rises aren’t here yet … (if ever).

    It’s also notable, Mr Johnstone provided in his report irrefutable information that critical numbers and analysis in the DCC report was knowingly incorrect, and were repeated despite that knowledge they were false.

    The private Hendry/Williams report clearly puts the blame at the maintenance of the system (the same as Johnstones report does), not the design of it, save as to the poorly designed new pump-screen. It also recommends considering reconnecting the old disused unsealed joint pipes to act as field drains for the land. However ground water levels were not high at the start of the storm and field drains would only have assisted if the water in them was able to get away i.e. past any mud traps and through any grates to the pump – both of which were clearly impaired meaning the pump was only at half capacity.

    DCC’s twist on the Hendry/Williams private stormwater report just provides further proof they are trying to hide the facts from its affected ratepayers (a common practice in local government it seems).

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