Tag Archives: Flooding

Regional state of emergency lifted in Otago (incl Dunedin & Waitaki)

Otago’s state of emergency has been lifted.
Emergency Management Otago this morning lifted the state of emergency which existed since deluges and heavy wind battered Otago’s eastern coast over the weekend. The region has now officially entered a recovery phase with teams moving on to assessing the damage and checking on the needs of those affected by the devastating floods. Emergency Management Otago group controller Chris Hawker, in Dunedin, said the move towards recovery did not signal any reduction in effort.

● Dunedin City Council (03) 477-4000
● Federated Farmers 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646)
● Otago Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254
http://www.rural-support.org.nz

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DUNEDIN CITY COUNCIL

Dunedin July Severe Weather update
10.45am Monday 24 July 2017

State of Emergency lifted

The Dunedin State of Emergency was lifted at 9am today. Under the Civil Defence Emergency Act 2002 we are now operating under a Notice of Local Transition Period as we move into the recovery phase.
The transition period is in force for 28 days (expires 9am 21 August) unless extended or ended earlier. The notice still gives the local authority powers to carry out essential emergency-related work.
More information about the work happening as part of the recovery phase will be provided today. The work will be led by Dunedin City Council Recovery Manager Simon Pickford.

Evacuation map – Upper Taieri Pond (PDF, 3.3 MB)
Mill Creek ponding area (PDF, 2.3 MB)

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‘GNS study’ story lacks all credibility

### NZ Herald Sun, 21 May 2017 at 8:55 AM
Higher seas may force New Zealand towns to retreat inland: GNS Science study to investigate
By Jamie Morton
Researchers have begun investigating how some New Zealand communities could be pulled back from hazard zones in the face of flooding driven by climate change and sea level rise. A new study, to be led by GNS Science as part of a near million-dollar wider research programme, will look at ways authorities and communities can plan for homes to be moved to safer ground. It is estimated two thirds of Kiwis live in areas prone to flooding. At least 43,000 homes lie within 1.5 metres of the present average spring high tide, and nearly 9000 within 50cm. The most optimistic emissions scenario has global average sea levels likely to rise between 44cm and 55cm by 2100. One way to meet this threat is with what’s called “managed retreat” – shifting back houses and infrastructure and allowing the shoreline to move inland. “In New Zealand, there have always been communities in hazard areas, particularly on the coast, and this is something that’s always been an option,” said GNS researcher Emily Grace, who is leading the study. “But it’s definitely had more prominence in the last few years with people becoming more aware of sea level rise and the effects of global warming.” While there were measures within the Resource Management Act that authorities could use to help plan for shifting homes or roads, the issue was fraught with complexity. There were conflicts between what actions regional and district councils could take, and private property rights also posed barriers for planners, Ms Grace said. “It’s the kind of thing that goes in the too-hard basket, really – and part of the point of the research is to find out why it has not been carried out by councils in New Zealand and what could help change that.” With the exception of Christchurch’s post-quake red zone, she could cite just a few examples of such moves being taken. NZME.
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[The propaganda]
NZ and climate change (via NZ Herald)
• Under present projections, the sea level around New Zealand is expected to rise between 50cm and 100cm this century, while temperatures could also increase by several degrees by 2100.
• Climate change would bring more floods (about two-thirds of Kiwis live in areas prone to flooding); make our freshwater problems worse and put more pressure on rivers and lakes; acidify our oceans; put even more species at risk and bring problems from the rest of the world.
• Climate change is also expected to result in more large storms, compounding the effects of sea level rise.
• New Zealand, which reported a 23% increase in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2014, has pledged to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels and 11% from 1990 levels by 2030.

12.5.17 ODT: Higher floor levels for some houses
From today, floors in houses to be built in low-lying areas of Dunedin could be up to 1m off the ground following the introduction of new “interim” minimum floor levels.

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Interesting opinion piece in the ODT today: ‘Left showed the Right the way’ by Andrew Waterworth. He says:

Postmodernism’s critique of science has paved the way for a broader questioning of whether empirical truths established through scientific method can be trusted. This has created fertile ground for the far Right to assert that science is a matter of opinion, to challenge scientific evidence for climate change, for example and to propose “alternative facts”. (ODT 22.5.17)

Instead, I would have said ‘this has created fertile ground for right thinking people to assert that computer-modelled science on climate change is just a box of fluffy ducks’. Because the ‘righters’ been stung by the evil tentacles, oh so many tentacles.

Obviously, the whole point is that the climate changers, vast numbers of them, ie millions of lemmings, have been riding high on false data for too long; false data initiated and supported by global corporates hand in hand with scrumpy academics, who both create and clip the tickets to gobble up Your Money and Assets. See too, what numbing expectations Central Government and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment are placing on local authorities across New Zealand – and how those ‘with power’ around us are swallowing the cc distortions whole, applying mandates with fuzzy zeal in the complete absence of scientifically factual critical contest.

I think Mr Waterworth reads Dellers at Breitbart.

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Donald Trump | Pope Francis [salon.com]

### breitbart.com 18 May 2017
Delingpole: Pope Will Convert Trump on Climate Change, Claims Bishop
By James Delingpole
When President Trump visits the Vatican next week, he will be transformed by the radiant wisdom of His Holiness, the Pope, into a fully fledged climate change believer. Or so – somewhat optimistically – the bishop in charge of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences has claimed. Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the Academies’ chancellor, said in an interview:

They will come to an agreement, since the president claims to be a Christian, and so he [Trump] will listen to him [the Pope].

Actually, you can bet your bottom dollar that this won’t happen, not least because the Pope’s views on climate change are in many ways profoundly unChristian. This was why the Pope’s 2015 encyclical on environmental issues Laudato Si was so controversial. It bought into the extreme environmentalist view which sees mankind as a blight on the planet rather than a blessing, and sees the industrial progress which brings jobs and prosperity as a curse.
Here is a sample of the encyclical.

But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

It also took at face value all the climate scaremongering which alarmists have been dishonestly propagating these last few decades, against all scientific evidence.

The melting in the polar ice caps and in high altitude plains can lead to the dangerous release of methane gas, while the decomposition of frozen organic material can further increase the emission of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain.

One U.S. Congressman – Rep Paul Gozar – complained it made the Pope sound like a “leftist politician”.
Read more

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elevating climate change [freakingnews.com via pinterest]

### breitbart.com 20 May 2017
Delingpole: ‘Penises Cause Climate Change’; Progressives Fooled by Peer-Reviewed Hoax Study
By James Delingpole
Gender studies is a fake academic industry populated by charlatans, deranged activists and gullible idiots. Now, a pair of enterprising hoaxers has proved it scientifically by persuading an academic journal to peer-review and publish their paper claiming that the penis is not really a male genital organ but a social construct. The paper, published by Cogent Social Sciences – “a multidisciplinary open access journal offering high quality peer review across the social sciences” – also claims that penises are responsible for causing climate change.
The two hoaxers are Peter Boghossian, a full-time faculty member in the Philosophy department at Portland State University, and James Lindsay, who has a doctorate in math and a background in physics.
They were hoping to emulate probably the most famous academic hoax in recent years: the Sokal Hoax – named after NYU and UCL physics professor Alan Sokal – who in 1996 persuaded an academic journal called Social Text to accept a paper titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”.
Sokal’s paper – comprising pages of impressive-sounding but meaningless pseudo-academic jargon – was written in part to demonstrate that humanities journals will publish pretty much anything so long as it sounds like “proper leftist thought;” and partly in order to send up the absurdity of so much post-modernist social science. So, for this new spoof, Boghossian and Lindsay were careful to throw in lots of signifier phrases to indicate fashionable anti-male bias:

We intended to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field. That is, we sought to demonstrate that a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship. Particularly, we suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.

They also took care to make it completely incomprehensible.

We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.

Some of it was written with the help of the Postmodern Generator – “a website coded in the 1990s by Andrew Bulhak featuring an algorithm, based on NYU physicist Alan Sokal’s method of hoaxing a cultural studies journal called Social Text, that returns a different fake postmodern ‘paper’ every time the page is reloaded.” […] None of it should have survived more than a moment’s scrutiny by serious academics. But it was peer-reviewed by two experts in the field who, after suggesting only a few changes, passed it for publication.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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Dunedin’s second generation district plan (2GP) —notes on Natural Hazards

Received from Neil Johnstone
Wed, 3 May 2017 at 7:19 p.m.

Message: Last Thursday (27 April) I presented the remainder of my submission on Natural Hazards. Notes attached in case they might help anybody’s further efforts.

{The notes from Mr Johnstone are public domain by virtue of the consultative 2GP hearing process. -Eds}

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2GP PRESENTATION NOTES: LANDSLIDES
Neil Johnstone

I have no property interest in any landslide hazard area (although I did previously), nor in the Water of Leith catchment, nor in South Dunedin. My main purpose in appearing at this stage is to bring to the panel’s attention that the expert (so-called) opinions received from Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) natural hazard analysts are often deficient to the detriment of the 2GP process and the city’s residents.

I am a long-term resident of Dunedin and am highly experienced in flood control issues and solutions. I am appearing here on my own behalf, therefore not strictly as an Expert Witness in this instance, although I have done so in past years both in both the High Court and the Environment Court. I also acted as lead technical advisor to the NZ Govt investigation into the massive 1999 Clutha flood. My detailed investigations have ranged from simple issues such as the Water of Leith (as Investigations Engineer at Otago Catchment Board and ORC) to the entire Clutha catchment (in varying roles). These investigations have often incorporated the construction and operation of accurate, properly verified models.

I am now semi-retired MIPENZ, but still running my own consultancy on a reduced basis. I am a highly experienced expert in flood issues, I am much less so wrt landslide identification and mitigation (but I know a nonsensical report when I read one). ORC hazard analysts responsible for the landslide buffer zones originally imposed across my former property (and many others) need to accept that their approach was seriously flawed, and far from expert. Paul Freeland has mentioned to me in a recent phone conversation that Dunedin City Council (DCC) should be able to have confidence that ORC hazard analysts are expert. I have no strong criticism of Mr Freeland, but those days have passed – in this region at least – when expertise was based on proven performance, and not on a position’s title. A property previously owned by my wife and me in Porterfield Street, Macandrew Bay was quite ridiculously misrepresented in ORC’s landslide report of September 2015. The landslide hazard zone on that property has apparently now been removed, but uncaring damage has been done to us, and no doubt to many others. The Hazard 2 zone was reportedly imposed without site inspection, or without anybody properly reviewing output or checking accuracy of references.

[Reason for submitting: Natural Hazards section of 2GP dominated (undermined) by ORC hazards staff input and DCC failure to verify/review; DCC presumption that ORC “experts” do/should have appropriate expertise. We appear to be witnessing a proliferation of Hazard Analysts in NZ Local Government with little relevant experience or skill.]

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2GP PRESENTATION NOTES: SOUTH DUNEDIN
Neil Johnstone

The comments re South Dunedin flood hazard contained in my original written submission were written prior to DCC’s producing its inaccurate flood reports in respect of the South Dunedin flooding of early June 2015 in which high groundwater levels were held to blame. These DCC reports were eventually released in late November 2015 and April 2016 respectively. My analyses (well after my original submission) demonstrated that the prime cause of widespread flooding in South Dunedin was DCC’s failure (in order of probable significance) to utilise the bypass facility at Tahuna Wastewater Treatment Plant, to fully utilise its stormwater pumping capacity at Portobello Road, and to maintain its stormwater infrastructure (mudtanks etc). Inflow of “foreign” water from the St Clair catchment added to the depth of inundation in some areas. All these can be remedied by a diligent Council. Some have already been remedied, as positively demonstrated in the admittedly rather over-hyped rain event of the subtropical cyclone remnant around this past Easter.

ORC natural hazard analysts were probably responsible for the origin of the groundwater myth as a cause of the South Dunedin flooding in their Coastal Otago Flood Event 3 June 2015 report. Reference was made there to “elevated” ground water levels. They followed up with a contentious report (The Natural Hazards of South Dunedin, July 2016). This opens by stating that the June 2015 flooding was caused by heavy rainfall and high groundwater levels, with no mention of mudtanks, or pumping failures (plural). Such reporting cannot be treated as balanced, nor its authors credible. Elsewhere, ORC essentially conceded the groundwater myth in Rebecca Macfie’s excellent NZ Listener article entitled Flood Fiasco (June 11, 2016).

Shortly after, however, ORC produced the aforementioned South Dunedin Hazards report (backed up by an embarrassingly inaccurate video presentation) that seems to reflect a desire to preach doom rather than convey a balanced defendable scientific analysis of South Dunedin realities and solutions where needed.

One of the worst features of the report and subsequent video was the depiction of projected permanently inundated areas of South Dunedin based on ORC modelling of rising sea level effects. These depictions made front page news in the Otago Daily Times with flow-on reporting nationally. The mapped areas of inundation are actually taken from an earlier ORC report entitled The South Dunedin Coastal Aquifer and Effect of Sea Level Fluctuations (October 2012). The modelling was based on limited information, and the findings would therefore be expected to be of limited reliability. The 2012 report essentially confirms this, noting that modelling of existing conditions overestimates actual groundwater levels (by the order of half a metre in places). Figure 2 (Scenario 0) of that report shows significant permanent ponding for current conditions. None exists in reality. Almost lost (in Section 3.8) are the following (abbreviated, and amongst other) concessions:

• Uncertainty of input data
• Potential inaccuracy of model predictions
• High level of uncertainty
• Groundwater system is poorly to moderately well characterised
• Aquifer properties are poorly understood or quantified
• Each of these uncertainties could have the effect of overestimating the groundwater ponding in the current setting.

The reader is advised to read the full Section 3.8 to ensure contextual accuracy. In my view (as an experienced modeller), a study that cannot even replicate known existing relationships is imperfectly calibrated and unverified. It cannot therefore be relied on. Strictly speaking, it does not qualify as a model. The relationship between possible sea level rise and consequent groundwater impact remains highly uncertain.

Unfortunately, the 2016 ORC South Dunedin Hazards report (and video) chose to reproduce the 2012 ponding predictions using more recent data (but without any better appreciation of aquifer characteristics), but the predictions are similar. It is noted that no Scenario 0 mapping is included in the latter report, nor are the model’s inherent weaknesses described. No admission of the potential modelling inaccuracies is presented other than the following note in Section 4.1: “Further discussion of the original model parameters, model calibration and potential pitfalls is included in the ORC (2012a) report, which can be accessed on the ORC website”. I believe that all parties were entitled to know unequivocally that the modelling was unreliable and unverified.

The 2016 report also makes reference to the fact that dry-weather ground water levels at the Culling Park recorder are at or below mean sea level. This is attributed by the authors to leakage of ground water into the stormwater and wastewater sewers. If that is correct (I would reserve judgement as to whether there may be other factors), then we are witnessing just one example of how an engineered solution could be utilised to dissipate increasing depth of groundwater. Such solutions are canvassed in the BECA report commissioned by DCC several years back.

To summarise, South Dunedin’s exposure to flood (current or future) is poorly described by ORC hazard analysts. The 2GP process seems to have seen these analysts “adopted” by DCC planners as their experts. I consider that to be an inappropriate approach to the detriment of our citizens.

The proposal to require relocatable housing in South Dunedin seems premature, and based on highly questionable information. The proposal for relocatable housing in South Dunedin also rather pre-empts the currently-planned DCC study of overseas approaches to sea level rise solutions.

Requiring relocatable houses will likely simply mean that aged houses that should in time be replaced will be repaired instead. Who is going to build a new relocatable house if they have nowhere to relocate to and probably insufficient money to acquire the requisite land? The proposal to require relocatable housing is ill-considered and premature in my opinion.

With respect to ground water issues across South Dunedin, the 2016 Hazard Report presents –

The reason for my pointing out these facts is to encourage Commissioners to take a step back from the current hysteria surrounding South Dunedin. Had the 2015 flooding extent been restricted (as it should have been) to that which occurred in a slightly larger rainfall event in March 1968, the event would have already been forgotten. Seemingly, at least partly as a result of that hysteria, the proposal to require relocatable housing in South Dunedin seems premature, and based on highly questionable information. Just as ORC floodplain mapping contradicts its in-place flood protection philosophy, so does the proposal for relocatable housing in South Dunedin also rather pre-empt the currently planned DCC study of overseas approaches to sea level rise.

Requiring relocatable houses will simply mean that aged houses that should in time be replaced will be repaired instead. Who is going to build a new relocatable house if they have nowhere to relocate to and probably no money to acquire the requisite land? The proposal for relocatable housing is ill-considered and premature in my opinion.

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2GP PRESENTATION: URBAN STREAM HAZARDS
Neil Johnstone

Urban Stream Comment re Leith and Lindsay Streams:

ORC’s mapping is said to be of residual flooding (post-flood protection works of the past 80-plus years), but actually represents what might have been envisaged many decades back in something considerably greater than the record 1929 flood with none of the very significant channel works of the 1930s, 1940s and 1960s; or even those lesser improvement of the 2010s in place. The ORC 2GP mapping includes areas that didn’t get flooded in 1923 or 1929. I agree with some potential dangers of stream blockage (especially in Lindsay Creek, and to a lesser extent at Clyde Street and Rockside Road), but one can only consider locations of feasible blockage in today’s conditions. Furthermore, accepted professional practice for flood plain mapping requires detailed hydrology, probability analyses, climate change allowance, hydrograph routing, in-channel modelling (allowing for stream capacity variability), and overland flow modelling. ORC’s flood mapping incorporates none of these fundamentals; instead, it reads as little more than a colouring-in exercise, when a professionally researched technical document is required. In short, ORC’s hazard analysts have carried out no fit-for-purpose analysis for a District Plan process.

Interestingly, the concerns expressed by ORC hazard analysts re channel blockage are entirely inconsistent with ORC’s own design philosophy and consent application evidence for the recent Flood protection scheme (so called). Design Philosophy minimises the issue.

Very briefly, the mapping is challenged for the following reasons (inter alia):

No descriptions of the effective flood protection initiatives (OHB -1920s and 1930s, DCC -1940s, OCB -1960s) are included. These works have ensured that overtopping is practically impossible in the George Street to Cumberland Street reach, the Clock Tower reach and Forth Street to Harbour reaches. Flood protection in these areas are all built to a much higher hydraulic standard than the so-called ORC scheme of the past decade, and to a far, far higher standard than existed pre-1929.

It is further noted that ORC’s own Design Philosophy Report (OPUS for ORC, 2005) for the proposed Leith/Lindsay flood protection scheme is adamant that debris traps recently (then) constructed at Malvern Street and Bethunes Gully would further mitigate any debris problems. Refer paras 7.7 and 10.6 of that document.

Ponding is mapped where water couldn’t even reach in 1929 (peak flood currently estimated at 220 cumecs, and predating flood protection measures) in the wider CBD area. Flows along George Street in the 1920s only occurred south as far as about Howe Street, then re-entered the river. Nowadays, the accelerating weir above George Street and the structural high velocity channel immediately downstream provide much more clearance than existed in 1929. [Most outflow then from the river occurred much further downstream.] In those downstream reaches, many of the bridges have been replaced or upgraded. Possible remaining points of interest are the hydraulically insignificant extension (circa 2015) of the St David Street footbridge, the historic Union Street arch footbridge, and the widened (circa 2012) Clyde Street road bridge. The flimsy St David Street bridge would not survive any hydraulic heading up so there would likely be of little flood consequence, and backing up upstream of Union St would be largely inconsequential because of the height of the Clock Tower reach banks immediately upstream. The Clyde Street bridge is acknowledged as being lower than optimum, but it has not created any issues in its half century existence. Any overtopping there could only impact on a limited area between the bridge and the railway line.

Overland lows beyond (east of) the rail line remain highly improbable because of the ongoing blocking effect of road and rail embankments. Flows as far as the railway station to the west of the rail line are also highly improbable nowadays as only the Clyde Street area could conceivably contribute.

The 1923 photograph showing ponding along Harrow Street is presented by ORC with an unfortunate caption stating that the water is sourced from the Leith. Some undoubtedly was, but the whole of the city was subject to “internal” stormwater flooding from Caversham tunnel, across South Dunedin to the CBD and beyond. To illustrate further, a NIWA April 1923 flood summary (accessible online) provides a summary of some of the information more fully described in technical reports and newspaper accounts, including:

• Portions of Caversham, South Dunedin, St Kilda, the lower portions of central and northern areas of the City and North East Valley were completely inundated.
• Water in South Dunedin was waist deep.
• The Water of Leith rose considerably and burst its banks in many places, causing extensive damage along its banks and flooding low-lying areas.

Today’s stormwater infrastructure is rather more extensive and effective (when maintained), and DCC has a continuing legal obligation to provide to maintain that service.

The levels plotted across Lindsay Creek seem highly pessimistic. Levels are shown to be of the order of 2 metres above North Road in some locations at least. I have [no] knowledge of any such levels ever having been approached. Care must be taken not to include unfloodable areas in the mapping. I don’t however discount localised channel blockage, and the channel capacity is substandard in many areas. The valley slope ensures that overland flow will achieve damaging velocities. Such velocities are noted in the NIWA summary.

Of greater concern to me, however, is that ORC’s mapping appears to have seriously underestimated the significance of potential Woodhaugh flood issues:-

The river channel through here is both steep and confined. The influences of Pine Hill Creek (immediately upstream) and Ross Creek (immediately downstream) add to turbulence and bank attack. The area was ravaged in 1923 and 1929, and there have been evacuations in some much lesser events in later decades. These areas are at considerable risk in a 50- to 100-year plus event. Hardin Street, Malvern Street had houses evacuated in the 1960s flood. High velocity, rock laden flows and mudslides can all be anticipated, and difficult to counter. Area below camping ground / Woodhaugh was overwhelmed in floods of the 1920s – a focus for flooding depth and velocity.

If the 2GP process is to include urban flood maps, these should be diligently derived, based on historical record and appropriate modelling. The mapping should reflect the real flood risks (including likelihood, velocity and depth). The decreasing flood risk from Woodhaugh (potentially high impact) through North East Valley (moderate impact) through to the main urban area south of the Leith waterway (localised and of little-to-zero impact) should be reflected in the mapping.

[ends]

2GP Hearing Topic: Natural Hazards
https://2gp.dunedin.govt.nz/2gp/hearings-schedule/natural-hazards.html

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

Related Posts and Comments
6.6.16 Listener June 11-17 2016 : Revisiting distress and mismanagement #SouthDunedinFlood
10.6.16 “Civic administration” reacts to hard hitting Listener article

[DCC Map differs from what was notified]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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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).

█ Download: A REVIEW OF ORC REPORT THE NATURAL HAZARDS OF SOUTH DUNEDIN (1) (PDF, 587 KB)

AN APPRAISAL OF RECENT REPORTING OF SOUTH DUNEDIN HAZARDS

N.P JOHNSTONE, BEng (Civil), MIPENZ

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*). Continue reading

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ORC, DCC continuing Deceptions : Natural Hazards for #SouthDunedin

W H A T ● P L A N ?

ORC stakeholder engagement director Caroline Rowe said the sessions were part of a wider “South Dunedin community engagement plan”.

### ODT Online Tue, 9 Aug 2016
Sessions on natural hazards
By John Gibb
South Dunedin residents will be able to learn more about natural hazards facing the area through drop-in sessions to be held at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum early next month.
The Otago Regional Council is organising the September 1 and 2 sessions, in collaboration with the Dunedin City Council. The drop-in session on the first day will run from 1.30pm to 7pm, and on the second day from 10am to 2.30pm.
Last month the ORC released a report titled “Natural Hazards of South Dunedin”. This report consolidated information and analysis gathered over the past seven years on the natural hazards facing the area, particularly the “increased likelihood of surface flooding associated with rising sea level”.
Read more

W H A T ● R I S K S ?
Answer ……. M I S I N F O R M A T I O N via ORC Hazard Plans and Maps

F I G H T >>> To Protect Your Property Values

“In a report to be tabled at the ORC’s technical committee tomorrow, Ms Rowe said South Dunedin was “an integral part of the wider Dunedin community” and many people and groups had an interest in how its risks would be managed. The report said the ORC also planned several other communication activities over the hazards plan, this month and next.” –ODT

ORC : Combined Council Agenda 10 August – Public.pdf
● Go to Agenda Item 5 (pp 34-35)
2016/0988 South Dunedin Community Engagement Report
The report outlines the approach management is taking to the community engagement as was verbally communicated at the Technical Committee meeting held on 20 July 2016 where Council received the report entitled “The Natural Hazards of South Dunedin” and made the decision to “endorse further community and stakeholder engagement within a timely manner”.

[screenshot – click to enlarge]
ORC Report 4.8.16 South Dunedin Engagement Plan [ID- A924516]

General reading (Otago including Dunedin City District)
ORC : Natural Hazards

● Information coming to this ORC webpage: ORC committee report – natural hazards of the Dunedin district: technical documents

Natural Hazards of South Dunedin – July 2016

● See also, the DCC second generation district plan (2GP) hazard zone information and maps based on ORC data, via the 2GP Index page.

Related Post and Comments:
6.8.16 LGOIMA trials and tribulations with peer reviews #SouthDunedinflood

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

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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

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Where is the unreserved DCC apology to the Community of South Dunedin ?

Updated post
Thu, 7 Jul 2016 at 5:45 p.m. [link to peer reviews via LGOIMA]

And where are the Opus International ‘peer reviews’ for public scrutiny.

All we have is the self-congratulatory propaganda from DCC and the motley crew, propagated by friends at ODT.

Flood review clears DCC staff findings

SHAME

We hear from inside DCC that the peer reviews are not up to much.

Opus, you say?

Hmm.

News. Farce. Like an incessant rash.

Reasons for political Removal.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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

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Presentations available —a) 4 July USA —b) 20 June SDAG

Link received.
Mon, 4 Jul 2016 at 12:29 p.m.

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I, Sam the Eagle, present a musical salute to America.
(c) 2009 The Muppets Studio, LLC

From: [Dunedin City Council]
Sent: Monday, 4 July 2016 11:55 a.m.
To: Elizabeth Kerr
Subject: Response to Information Request

Dear Ms Kerr,

Official information request for CEO SPEECH SOUTH DUNEDIN

I refer to your official information request dated 27-June-2016 for “a full copy of DCC Chief Executive Sue Bidrose’s speech and overhead slides presented to the public meeting hosted by the South Dunedin Action Group on 20 June at Nations Church, King Edward St.”

The information you have requested is available on our website at:
http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/550140/SC2200115516062812500.pdf

If you wish to discuss this further with us, please feel free to contact the chief executive and request an appointment.

Yours sincerely

[Dunedin City Council]

Download: Sue Bidrose – South Dunedin and stormwater June 20 2016
(PDF, 1 MB)

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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

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