Johnstone on ORC report : ‘The Natural Hazards of South Dunedin’ (July 2016)

The Natural Hazards of South Dunedin – July 2016 [read online]
Otago Regional Council
ISBN: 978-0-908324-35-4
Report writers:
Michael Goldsmith, ORC Natural Hazards Manager
Sharon Hornblow, ORC Natural Hazards Analyst
Reviewed by: Gavin Palmer, ORC Director Engineering, Hazards and Science
External review by: David Barrell, Simon Cox, GNS Science, Dunedin

Received from Neil Johnstone
Sun, 29 Aug 2016 at 8:17 p.m.

Message: Misinformation on the causes of the June 2015 South Dunedin flood have abounded since the event. As if the victimised residents haven’t suffered enough from others’ inactions (before and during the event), they are now being subjected to a hazards discovery process whose vigour appears to be exceeded only by its own recklessness. Following are a commentary of the hazards approach adopted by the Otago Regional Council (ORC), and a summary of my investigations into the flood event that I commenced after the publication of Dunedin City Council’s first flood report back in November 2015.

You can download Neil Johnstone’s report or read it below (formatted slightly differently to suit the WordPress template).




1. Introduction

There is some irony that DCC and ORC should be planning “drop in” sessions for residents in respect of South Dunedin hazard issues during September 2016, some 15 months after the major flood. The prime cause of flooding in June 2015 was DCC’s failure to maintain its infrastructure (not just mudtanks), and its failure to operate its pump stations to their intended capacities. The subsequent spread of misconceptions (i.e. groundwater levels, rainfall significance etc) surrounding the flood causes was at least partly due to inaccurate ORC analyses and reporting.

Repetitive and new doubtful information emanating from ORC via its latest report has been noted. Presentations and an over-simplistic video production have been observed. A footnote covering these observations is included at the end of this appraisal.

Long-delayed DCC reports on causes of the South Dunedin flooding have already been strongly criticised by the author. Specifically discredited are misrepresentations of sea level, groundwater and rainfall ranking. Accepted now by DCC as factors (somewhat grudgingly, and depending on the audience) are mudtank blockage and Portobello Road pump station failures (plural); still to be fully acknowledged are the failures at Musselburgh Pumping Station.

Attention is now turned to significant parts of hazard reports produced by the Otago Regional Council and utilised by DCC.

2. Coastal Otago Flood Event 3 June 2015 (ORC, published October 2015)

This report deals with a wider area than South Dunedin. It is apparent that ORC staff never visited the flooding areas of South Dunedin on 3 June, but took advantage of fine weather to take some water level readings the following day. The opportunity for useful progressive surface water level recording was thus lost. Levels were collected at some 150 points on 4 June. ORC’s main conclusion was that “localised variations in topography were probably the main driver of flood depth”. Or, put another way, water depth was deepest where the ground was lowest. This seems hardly surprising, and even trivial. No attempt was made to explain the photographic images presented of extensive ponding remaining well after the rains had ceased. The phenomena of blocked mudtanks and unutilised pumping capacity went seemingly unnoticed.

The report does usefully reference ORC’s four borehole recorders of groundwater, but makes the somewhat misleading assessment that groundwater levels were “elevated” prior to the rainstorm. This misinformation was seized upon by agencies such as DCC and the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to highlight climate change impacts.

Having obtained the actual groundwater level data from ORC via the LGOIMA process, the author was able to reveal this “groundwater fallacy” in reviews from February 2016, but it was not until the publication of NZ Listener’s article (June 11-17, 2016) entitled ‘FLOOD FIASCO’ that ORC admitted that pre-flood groundwater levels were in fact “just a little bit above average”. ORC now seems intent on resurrecting this fallacy.

The ORC report fails to address the real and key issues of pumping station failures (Portobello Road and Musselburgh), or comparisons with much lesser flood impacts in the larger rainfall event of March 8/9 1968.

The report states that the 2015 24-hour rainfall was the largest since 1923. This was patently incorrect, but again was utilised by DCC to divert blame from their role in the disaster.

3. The Natural Hazards of South Dunedin (ORC, published July 2016)

The report states unambiguously in its Opening Summary that the major flooding of June 2015 was “a result of heavy rainfall, surface runoff, and a corresponding rise in groundwater”. By now, most people are aware that the causes of the flooding’s disastrous impact were failure to optimally operate pumping stations, failure to clear mudtanks, and failure to deploy staff to key areas during the event. Again, none of these factors is addressed in ORC’s report.

The report presents a table on its second page entitled “Factors Which Can Influence Flood Hazard”. Examples of exaggerated negativity include:

1. Heavy Rainfall:
– Many recorded instances of rainfall leading to surface flooding.
– Heavy rainfall events have occurred frequently over the last decade.

Comment: These conclusions do not appear to be supported by the report’s text, and are vague, factually challengeable and alarmist. Prior to 2015, no major flooding had occurred in South Dunedin since 1968, and even that was minor by comparison.

2. Sea Level:
– Groundwater level fluctuates (by up to 0.5m near the coast) on a twice-daily cycle in response to normal ocean tides.

Comment: All of South Dunedin is near the coast; most of the area does not experience such large fluctuations. This should have been made clear by the inclusion of groundwater data from all 4 ORC sites across the plain, not just from Kennedy Street.

3. Seismic:
– Large earthquakes could result in increased flood hazard on the South Dunedin plain, due to liquefaction-related land subsidence or direct, sudden, changes in land elevation relative to sea level.

Comment: All areas of NZ have some susceptibility to earthquake damage. Dunedin is amongst the areas at lowest risk; no incidences of even minor liquefaction have ever been reported in South Dunedin, and little or no clearly liquefiable materials have been identified (Refer GNS, 2014*).

In respect of groundwater levels, the report (p.22) makes the finding if median groundwater level at Culling Park was similar to that at the other ORC bores, then surface ponding could occur much more regularly.

Comment: The key data, overlooked by ORC is that by 8am on 3 June 2015 groundwater levels at Culling Park were already slightly higher than at two of ORC’s three other bores (Kennedy Street and Bathgate Park). Pre-existing groundwater levels were already largely irrelevant after just 23mm (less than an inch) of rainfall. Low pre-existing groundwater levels provided little benefit.

On p.23 it is reported that Fordyce (a post-grad student, apparently) “found” that areas of silt (or is it sand?) can impede infiltration of rainfall causing a greater risk of flooding due to the rapid groundwater response observed at those sites.

Comment: If infiltration were impeded, would not groundwater response be slowed?

On pp.26-27 it is postulated that increases in groundwater level (brought about by the June 2015 rainfall) caused a rapid increase in infiltration into the wastewater network.

Comment: Careful analysis of data across the entire event actually demonstrates that wastewater flow increases were predominantly caused by surface water entering the wastewater system, most probably via illegal connections, gully traps etc. The condition of “aged” wastewater pipes is therefore unlikely to prove a major issue in respect of flood water management.

On p.38 it is stated that the 2010 Darfield earthquake resulted in some minor damage to property in the Dunedin area.

Comment: Is this even relevant to South Dunedin? In any case, no detail is provided on what and where damage occurred. The expert GNS report states that little if any damage was caused in the Dunedin area. Why does the ORC report provide the more negative slant?

On p.39 the report states that were the 2011 Christchurch earthquake to be centred directly under Dunedin, then similar damage could be anticipated.

Comment: Given Christchurch’s considerable earthquake history and Waimakariri influence, the conclusion seems irresponsible. To my knowledge, no such dramatic conclusion is drawn in the expert GNS report.

The report (pp.49-52, figs 40ff) maps areas of South Dunedin that its models predict would be inundated in the event of sea level rise. This has caused considerable local alarm following publication in ODT.

Comment: Four sea level rise scenarios ranging from 0.11m to 0.60m are mapped. The unusual choice of 0.11m starting point for assumed initial sea level rise appears to hark back to previous (international) predictions of sea level rise. Mapped ponding depths projected into the 0.10-0.20m range, rather than in the less alarming 0-0.10m range, may be an unfortunate pessimistic outcome.

There appear to be fundamental problems with the areas and depths of groundwater inundation plotted. These discrepancies are treated in some detail below. But even if the plots are accurate, the following should be noted:

I. The majority of areas inundated in lesser sea level rise scenarios are the playing field areas of Tonga and Bathgate Parks.

II. In all sea level rise scenarios plotted, there is virtually no inundation evident across extensive areas to the “east” of a line through Burns, Bradshaw and Kirkaldy Streets. This seems questionable.

III. Potential ponding, as described in the report, can easily be eliminated should it threaten. Solutions are not offered in the report.

IV. Most importantly, the inundation maps appear identical with those presented in the original ORC modelling report The South Dunedin Coastal Aquifer & Effect of Sea Level Fluctuations 2012, author Jens Rekker. Interestingly, however, the original report also predicts the existence of significant areas of permanent inundation in a zero sea level rise scenario. These inundated areas are only about 30% smaller than for the 0.11m scenario, and therefore cover a considerable area (refer fig 2 of Rekker’s report). Problematically for ORC, this finding is totally at odds with reality; there is obviously no current (i.e. zero sea level rise) ponding evident at the locations identified. The modelling outputs are therefore pessimistically wrong in some areas at least, don’t reflect reality, and cannot therefore be trusted. Mr Rekker, to his credit, acknowledges the inaccuracy of his model’s predictions by confirming that the model should show no saturation in the “zero sea level rise” scenario. Unfortunately, the authors of the 2016 hazard report have reproduced maps that they should have known likely to be wrong. Unfortunately, the zero sea level rise inundation maps are not reproduced in the latter report; that would have immediately demonstrated the anomalies. (Note: this is not to say that ponding can not occur should sea levels rise; areas should not have been presented as wet or dry as defined by clearly imperfect modelling).


1. The ORC reporting seems biased towards “catastrophism”, lacks objectivity, accuracy and balance, and promotes negativity. Few solutions are offered, despite their obvious availability. Residents of South Dunedin should preferably read the BECA 2014 Report Assessment of Options for Protecting Harbourside and South City From Direct Impacts of Sea Level Rise (for DCC) if they want an expert perspective of sea level rise impacts and solutions for South Dunedin, and the GNS Report 2014/068 Assessment of Liquefaction Hazards in the Dunedin City District (for ORC) should they seek expert appraisal of seismic issues for the area.

2. If South Dunedin residents wish to better understand why parts of their area were flooded in June 2015, they should read the attached summary, based on the author’s investigations carried out over the intervening period since the flood event.


At both a presentation delivered by ORC and on its recent video production, the questionable information promoted in its Hazards Report was compounded by a succession of challengeable findings and statements from its hazards writers. These included:

i. Parts of South Dunedin (in addition to Forbury Park) are permanently ponded during the winter months; +
ii. The 1923 and 2015 rainfalls were similar; +
iii. South Dunedin has comparable earthquake risk to Christchurch’s (based on possible unknown faults etc); +
iv. Pre-existing groundwater levels were a significant factor in the 2015 flood; +
v. An admission was made that ORC modelling predicted that significant groundwater should be ponding under current sea level conditions. This was accompanied by a reluctance to concede that the modelling must therefore be unreliable;
vi. Areas reclaimed by the Otago Harbour were built upon soon after the sand was pumped in, and not well compacted; +
vii. Groundwater levels are higher in winter because of higher rainfalls then; +
viii. South Dunedin collects all the water from the surrounding hill catchments. +

+ These findings are strongly disputed.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Election Year. This post is offered in the public interest.


Filed under Baloney, Business, Climate change, DCC, Democracy, District Plan, Dunedin, Economics, Finance, Geography, Health, Heritage, Housing, Infrastructure, Name, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Proposed 2GP, Public interest, Resource management, Site, South Dunedin, Town planning, Transportation, Travesty, Urban design, What stadium

27 responses to “Johnstone on ORC report : ‘The Natural Hazards of South Dunedin’ (July 2016)

  1. Gurglars

    It would suggest that the original ORC report was signed off by one

    C. (Chicken) Little.

    Well known

    My personal well wishes to Neil for his forthcoming election.

    What a change it would be to have another pragmatist on the Dunedin City Council.

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    “On p.39 the report states that were the 2011 Christchurch earthquake to be centred directly under Dunedin, then similar damage could be anticipated.”

    Were the 2011 Japan tsunami to occur at St Clair we would’t be worried about the sand dunes.

    If the camel shackles had turned out to be Maori prisoner restraints we’d have one less thing to ridicule Mayor Cull about.

    And, if I had bacon I could have bacon and eggs, if I had eggs.

    By golly there’s some daft stuff gets written in reports. Even dafter, it’s then quoted and taken seriously by people who should be ashamed of being too lazy to use their brains.

    As for Gurglars’ “My personal well wishes to Neil for his forthcoming election” – Hear hear! Enthusiastic support from me too.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    This man Neil Johnstone is a must for council. If the citizens elect him he will be in a position to apply the blowtorch to the ‘Y’ fronts of all the so-called expert staff who are in denial over the South Dunedin 2015 Flood. This in turn could result in a staff reshuffle (long overdue). His professional background would enable him to offer valuable insights into the whole infrastructure situation which seems to have been underfunded for decades while the city built an unsustainable debt burden on the Stadium, Dunedin Town Hall Redevelopment, Otago Settlers Museum and ‘trivia’ like cycleways etc.
    A man with credentials, not ideologies and fantasies. In effect, deal with the nuts and bolts of the social landscape first, before ‘hiving off to China and other worlds apart places’.

  4. Gurglars

    Money needed for infrastructure!‘high-level’-south-d-flood-options-table

    I know where they can start!

    1. Forget about fripperies – example cycleways $47-80 million.
    2. Reduce “Managers” salaries by an initial 25% followed by another 20%, there are just too many managers and not enough doers.
    3. Reduce staff by half (these two measures will save $20 million pa)
    4. Give the stadium away (another $20 million pa)
    5. Sell Delta. We don’t know what that will save, but 100 pax at $100,000 is a big start, savings on land development etc etc.

    That would easily finance $1 billion AND reduce rates.

    • JimmyJones

      Good suggestions Gurglars. There is no way we should be pandering to bicycle lobbyists while our water, stormwater and sewerage systems are in such a poor state. To cut staff numbers in half, the place to start would be those departments that do nothing useful or cause harm. These entire departments should go:
      — Transport Planning
      — Transport Policy
      — City Development
      — Events and community Development
      — Corporate Policy (political guidance)
      — Enterprise Dunedin
      — Communications and Marketing (spindoctors)

  5. Elizabeth

    See Report tabled at yesterday’s infrastructure services committee meeting.

    Wed, 31 Aug 2016
    ‘High level’ South D flood options on table
    The Dunedin City Council has started looking at “high level” options for significant investment in South Dunedin’s stormwater infrastructure. The options will probably be presented next year to newly-elected councillors, who will face tough decisions about how much the council should spend on upgrades and what level of service is required in the wake of the devastating June 2015 flood.

    █ 30.8.16 Infrastructure Services Committee
    Agenda with Reports

    Go to Part A Reports (Committee has power to decide these matters):
    5. 3 Waters activity report for the year ending 30 June 2016
    6. Update on progress on the three waters component of the Infrastructure Strategy 17

    View HTML | PDF (1.0 MB)

    • JimmyJones

      So far there is no reason to believe that the dangerously substandard parts of the city’s stormwater system will be upgraded to the standard of coping with a 1 in 10 rainfall and no flooding above floor level with a 1 in 50 year rainfall. This is the accepted standard and the DCC has for years told us that this has been their target, which has misled many citizens to believe that this 1 in 10 level had actually been achieved. South Dunedin citizens should have been warned that the stormwater system could only cope with a feeble 1 in 2 year rain event. Note that the this week’s ISC meeting appears to have made no decisions about this and Dave Cull’s resolution passed at the May ISC did almost nothing except delay the possibility of any decisions.

      It is interesting that the ODT ignored the astonishing news revealed at the May ISC about the buggered pipes and the very low level of service, which were the cause of the flooding. Now it seems that the regime (DCC + Allied Press) have realized that an election is close and that their guys were about to get severely whacked for causing the 2015 flood, trying to shift the blame and then doing nothing to fix the problem. So today in the ODT we are given the impression that action is happening. But it isn’t. It’s just more delay until after the election, after which they hope we will have forgotten about it. They have already made their intentions clear with their Annual Plan decision: No money is currently budgeted to upgrade the capacity of the South Dunedin stormwater system.

      To clarify: having a low level of service, such as 1 in 2 year rain event instead of a 1 in 10 year, is another way of saying that the pipes are fucked (blocked, silted, collapsed, cracked and undersized). The CEO has made a big thing about the new $500,000 pump screen, but there is no evidence that this would have made any difference during the flood because of the other restrictions. All three things need to be sorted: mudtanks, pipes and pump screen. It’s time to fix the pipes. Election candidates need to understand that infrastructure is critical. Infrastructure is their purpose. Citizens at Mosgiel, Brighton, Green Island, South Dunedin and others continue to be at risk of more flooding because of the incompetence and wilful neglect of Mayor Cull and his A-team.

      • Calvin Oaten

        JimmyJones, it is pertinent to note that after all the angst of the last year that there is absolutely no provision in the next ten years to address the South Dunedin precinct’s storm-water reticulation. Other than attending to the Portobello Rd pumping station inlet screens nothing else seems of any concern.

        Amazing stuff really, particularly with the June 2015 flood debacle. It seems like it has been exorcised from their minds and that is that. If there was ever an example of gross incompetence then this is ‘one in spades’.

        The only message that any aspiring Mayor and Councillors, including the public can take from this is that it is high time for a complete review of the support structure within the building. It is a system morphed from the deliberate actions of the Labour Government changes to local body function dictated by the Michael Bassett ministry around 1989.

        Since then in Dunedin there has been disestablishment of the in-house Chief Engineer’s position together with the relative departments supporting and executing development and maintenance of all essential infrastructure such as potable water supplies, waste water reticulation and disposal, storm-water reticulation and disposal, roading and development design and maintenance. All these essentials are now in the hands of a very limited ability bureaucracy which is in turn beholden to private consultants and contractors. The results speak for themselves.

        The solution for any future Mayor and council is to institute a comprehensive review of the position and institute substantial changes involving the downsizing and extinguishing of the multifarious departments involved in all non essential activities. The [Policy] Planning Department, Economic Development, Enterprise Dunedin, Commercial investments such as Wall Street Mall, and all non essential properties should be sold and the departments closed. DCHL companies reviewed, cashed up and sold. Gone would be the hideous salary structures together with the ‘herd of pointy toed directors’ and their gratuitous fee grabbing. All proceeds used towards debt reduction and renewal of in-house works and services under the auspices of a duly appointed qualified engineer and qualified support staff.

        In a word, “back to the future”, where the control and outcome is in the citizens’ hands.

        Gone would be the citizens funding of commercial activities which belong in the commercial world. Gone would be stadiums, and conference centres. These would be either sold off or put on a minimum of a break even basis to users. If this was declined then closure and writing off of debt from funds released by selling off of all the above plus the likes of the Waipori Fund.

        Once the city had its debt in control and services upgraded to standards expected in this modern day then, and only then, could it be said the elected bodies had done their jobs effectively. Then the city could move forward confidently to the future on a sound financial base. The winners would be the citizens, the losers the “troughers” Do-gooders, ‘zombies’ and high salaried malingerers pretending to be relevant.

        Possible? I think so, given the right people in office and the strength of leadership from the office of the Mayor.

        Hope is always eternal.

        • Elizabeth

          Calvin – had to remove the word incompetent. Also, there is no way you can’t have a set of resource management planners to oversee District Plan matters and associated statutory planning policy and frameworks (eg ORC’s Regional Plan) – and simply because the citizens deserve well-managed observance of property law and more as regards private and public property and activities – it’s not just the RMA that impels this, obviously. I have therefore added ‘[Policy]’ Planning to your statement. This is the woolly area that Jinters and Co have mushroomed on large dollops of hours and rates funds – not forgetting the horror of near-tenured staff.

        • JimmyJones

          We should always be hopeful, Calvin. But hope is never enough. Hope + Action is what’s needed.
          A notable aspect of the current council administration is centralised spin-doctoring. This is funded with $5 million per year of the citizens money. The massaged messages seem to be also targeted at DCC councillors. An example of this is the way councillors were [not informed] about the inadequate mudtank maintenance. The CEO has (indirectly) apologised for this (ISC, 24/4/16), but various other misinformation about aspects of the stormwater system failure have not been dealt with.
          The reason the deficient Portobello Rd pump screen was publicised was because it was simple to explain and could be fixed very cheaply compared to fixing the buggered pipes. It was a quick fix to a serious public relations disaster – but it hasn’t fixed the actual problem.

          {Moderated. -Eds}

  6. Hype O'Thermia

    “Citizens at Mosgiel, Brighton, Green Island, South Dunedin and others continue to be at risk of more flooding…….”.
    So, remind me, how high a priority is a Mosgiel state of the art swimming pool?
    Would refurbishment and maintenance of existing pools allow the Community (ordinary people, not elite sports stars) the exercise that is beneficial to them?

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Dunedin’s motley assortment of wise responders getting in a stew about what they’re going to do about sea level rise etc etc due to Climate Change, wouldn’t that just bust yer corsets seeing as our council(s) and DCC couldn’t even manage infrastructure for Climate No-Change!

  8. Rob Hamlin

    One has to feel some sympathy with our councillors. The report presented yesterday is a masterpiece of obfuscation, repetition and turgid concealment by volume. It is also typical of what is fed into Council. It collectively represents an overwhelming volume of ‘fluff’.

    Generally, I can only cope with a couple of DCC issues a year by cutting through the fluff that is fed to us to find out what’s really happening, and that requires both time and specfic expertise in said couple of areas – among many within which I don’t, and therefore stay away from. Mr. Johnstone (luckily) has the necessary experience and expertise in this key area. ‘Chistchurch Driver’ in another.

    A councillor by contrast cops the lot, and with the best will in the World any single Councillor will be thus be hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned overall.

    It is this that makes the Mayor’s role so crucial, as they set the agenda and control the nature of information (human and written) that is both available to council and that might be forced down their throats. That we currently have a major deficiency in this area was starkly revealed by by the video in which Delta’s accounts were discussed.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “…….Later, Hacker chances upon Tom Sargent, his predecessor as Minister for Administrative Affairs, and sits down for a chat. Sargent enlightens Hacker as to the nature of Sir Humphrey’s stalling technique. This comprises a five-stage plan that will ensure that nothing is achieved at any time between general elections, while also swamping his Minister with paperwork, thus effecting the desired state of “creative inertia”. He specifically tells Hacker to look in the bottom of his fifth red box that evening to find Sir Humphrey’s reasons for not proceeding with the proposed safeguards for the National Integrated Database………”

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Two more reminders from a google search : “Yes Minister” courageous – of how staff can bumfusticate councillors.

        “Yes, Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister are British television shows that were broadcast …. to be really sure that the Minister doesn’t accept it, you must say the decision is “courageous”. Bernard: And that’s worse than “controversial”?”

        “Sir Humphrey tells the PM that it would be the most courageous policy he has ever proposed (“courageous” being his most damning epithet: “‘controversial’ will lose you votes; ‘courageous’ will lose you the election”).”

        Mayoral and councillor hopefuls need to ask themselves if they feel confident they can negotiate their way through these tactics, bearing in mind that the people using them have had a long time to perfect their techniques.

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks Rob.
      What if? Dunedin stands by the expertise of Neil Johnstone and Christchurch Driver [CD].

      More to come.

  9. Elizabeth

    If We’re Really Lucky, the new city council will put thought to what sort of experienced executive the district needs going forward. So no more putting your arms around election candidates, thanks. Hands off.

    ### Fri, 2 Sep 2016
    The South Today
    Councils join forces to forge a new path
    The Dunedin City and Otago Regional councils have spent the past two days discussing the future of South Dunedin. They joined forces for a series of workshops. The DCC’s Chief Executive believes the community consultation is essential for dispelling myths and finding a way forward.
    Ch39 Link

    Channel 39 Published on Sep 1, 2016
    Councils join forces to forge a new path

  10. Elizabeth

    L G O I M A ● R E Q U E S T

    Note the content of these posts:

    6.8.16 LGOIMA trials and tribulations with peer reviews #SouthDunedinflood
    5.8.16 ODT on DCC : LGOIMA takes an age….
    2.6.16 Official Information at Dunedin City : Bev Butler maintains pressure
    ●● 27.5.16 Letter from Ombudsman to Bev Butler
    2.3.16 DCC compels extensions on LGOIMA requests #SouthDunedinFlood
    3.11.15 South Dunedin Flood | Correspondence & Debriefing Notes… #LGOIMA
    10.7.15 Ombudsman complaint re DCC reply to LGOIMA requests #CSTfiles
    20.6.15 DCC / Carisbrook Stadium Trust document scramble #LGOIMA

    A cumulative pattern ? Good intentions, more staff required to meet democratic openness and transparency ? Software not failproof ? Or…..

    From: Elizabeth Kerr
    Sent: Friday, 2 September 2016 4:25 p.m.
    To: [DCC Admin]
    Cc: Elizabeth Kerr; Sandy Graham [DCC]
    Subject: Re: Response to LGOIMA request

    Acknowledgement of receipt.

    This matter is likely to be referred to the Ombudsman.


    Elizabeth Kerr

    Sent from my smartphone network


    ——– Original message ——–
    From: [DCC Admin]
    Date: 02/09/2016 2:47 pm (GMT+12:00)
    To: Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: Response to LGOIMA request


    Elizabeth Kerr

    Dear Ms Kerr,

    Official information request for COMPARISON OF OPUS PEER REVIEW FLOOD REPORTS

    I refer to your official information request dated 14-July-2016 for the following information:

    [1.] I now request electronic copy of the particular and specific versions of the DCC flood reports that were provided by DCC to the Opus peer reviewer prior to and during the peer reviewer’s examination and reporting – should those DCC reports differ in ANY WAY from the flood reports tabled to the Mayor and Councillors in the public section of the full Council meeting of 30 Nov 2015 and the public section of the Infrastructure Services Committee meeting of 26 Apr 2016.

    [2.] I request that ANY CHANGES between the DCC reports made public at or before these dates, and those DCC reports submitted for peer review, are marked up to clearly show where ALL changes have been made (to be accompanied by brief and legible annotations in explanation for changes made).

    After checking with staff I can confirm that on the occasion of both the Council meeting on November 30, 2015, and the Infrastructure Services Committee meeting on April 26, 2016, the Opus peer reviewer was provided with links to the reports posted on the DCC website as part of the agenda for each meeting. This means the information supplied to the elected members and the Opus reviewer was exactly the same.

    I apologise for the delay in responding to your request. This was due to an administrative oversight where I believed another person had responded to you, and then discovered they hadn’t. You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this decision. Information about how to make a complaint is available at or freephone 0800 802 602.

    If you wish to discuss this information with us, please feel free to contact me and I will put you in touch with the best staff member to answer your questions.

    Yours sincerely

    [DCC Admin]
    Dunedin City Council


    ——– Original message ——–
    From: Elizabeth Kerr
    Date: 02/09/2016 11:25 am (GMT+12:00)
    To: [DCC Admin]
    Cc: Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: RE: Follow up on LGOIMA request

    Thanks [name removed]. Await your reply in full. Noting the LGOIMA time delay.

    Regards, Elizabeth

    Sent from my smartphone network


    ——– Original message ——–
    From: [DCC Admin]
    Date: 02/09/2016 10:59 am (GMT+12:00)
    To: Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: RE: Follow up on LGOIMA request

    Dear Elizabeth,

    Sorry, I misunderstood what the staff member told me so please ignore my previous email. You have not been sent links to the reports. I have clarified the situation and will draft a formal response to you today.

    [DCC Admin]


    From: Elizabeth Kerr []
    Sent: Friday, 2 September 2016 10:42 a.m.
    To: [DCC Admin]
    Cc: Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: Re: Follow up on LGOIMA request
    Importance: High

    Dear [name removed]

    1. Please supply the electronic copy as requested via LGOIMA on 14 July 2016. Formatting as independent PDF file(s) will be sufficient.


    2. Please Highlight (mark up) any changes within / between these files as per my LGOIMA request made of 14 July 2016.

    My information request is and was sufficiently clear.


    Elizabeth Kerr

    Sent from my smartphone network


    ——– Original message ——–
    From: [DCC Admin]
    Date: 02/09/2016 9:54 am (GMT+12:00)
    To: Elizabeth Kerr
    Subject: Follow up on LGOIMA request

    Dear Elizabeth,

    I am just following up on the request below, submitted by you on July 14:

    [1.] I now request electronic copy of the particular and specific versions of the DCC flood reports that were provided by DCC to the Opus peer reviewer prior to and during the peer reviewer’s examination and reporting – should those DCC reports differ in ANY WAY from the flood reports tabled to the Mayor and Councillors in the public section of the full Council meeting of 30 Nov 2015 and the public section of the Infrastructure Services Committee meeting of 26 Apr 2016.

    2. I request that ANY CHANGES between the DCC reports made public at or before these dates, and those DCC reports submitted for peer review, are marked up to clearly show where ALL changes have been made (to be accompanied by brief and legible annotations in explanation for changes made). I look forward to reply.

    I have been informed by staff that you were emailed directly with links to the reports on the council website. Did this answer your question and is it now appropriate for me to sign this one off?


    [DCC Admin]
    Dunedin City Council

  11. Gurglars

    Dispelling Myths!!!

    The first second and third myths the DCC need to dispel are the ones they create! In particular the need for cycleways, traffic lights and the level of groundwater in South Dunedin.

  12. Calvin Oaten

    Dispelling Myths!!! If they did this there would be nothing to hide behind. Groundwater, Sea rise, Mud tanks not the problem, Pump station inlet screens…? Which are the Myths? Best ask Dave Cull.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “Which are the Myths? Best ask Dave Cull.” Indeed Calvin.
      David Loughrey did just that,, “How would you deal with South Dunedin issues of flooding and climate change?”

      To which Dave Cull responded:

      “The way we’re dealing with them is first of recognising that there are two issues springing from climate change.
      One is the increased frequency and severity of storm events, which affects the stormwater system.
      The other is the impact of sea-level rise on groundwater………..”

      No Myths were harmed in the construction of Dave’s response.

  13. Calvin Oaten

    Perhaps Dave Cull has a lisping impediment. What he really was saying is, “The way we’re dealing with them is first off recognising that there are two myths (misses) springing from climate change.
    One myth (‘miss’) is the frequency and severity of storm events.
    The other myth (‘miss’) is the impact of sea-level rise on groundwater…….”
    David Loughrey should have exposed this, among Dave Cull’s many other afflictions.

  14. Elizabeth

    Here’s what civil engineer and DCC candidate Neil Johnstone has to say this week on flood levels and infrastructure failure:

    I have spent much of the past fortnight across South Dunedin, distributing some election pamphlets and chatting with the locals. The only hazard I encountered was the risk of drowning under innumerable offers of cups of tea and coffee that accompanied the long chats. My mail drops uncovered a variety of glossy material from a small number of other candidates. I thus had the opportunity to read any interesting ones with residents.

    The material distributed by sitting Councillor Andrew Whiley was the one that proved of most interest to me. Andrew subsequently gave me a copy on Tuesday night. To quote verbatim, Andrew states “The June 3rd flood was exacerbated by the poor maintenance of the mud tanks and the issues around the Portobello Road pumping station. This infrastructure failure resulted in a 30cm flood becoming a 50cm flood and this difference is what caused most of the damage in South Dunedin” (my italics). This is an appropriate overview, noting however that other failures such as at Musselburgh pumping station caused additional detriment, and I congratulate Andrew for his diligence. The 20cm (200mm) additional flood depth assessment is not new. In fact, I produced a similar estimate in my first peer review way back in February. What is now new is a growing acknowledgement of the severe consequences of that flood level being created by infrastructure failure. This may be news to the Insurance Council and to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment when they come to revise their respective positions.

    I shall be resuming my contact with the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, whom I have previously challenged when her premature and erroneous assessments of the South Dunedin flood cause went nation-wide.

    As I said the other night (21 Sept) at the local candidates’ meeting, South Dunedin residents could litigate. I hope they don’t. Only lawyers and out-of-town consultants would ultimately benefit. What I do hope is that they will now go knocking on Council’s door from a position of strength, and demand that they get the proper attention that they have so far been denied. And I hope that others will join me in helping them and in enlightening those agencies mentioned above.


    whiley-flyer-1[image supplied]

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