Election Year : The following post is offered in the public interest. -Eds
From: Hilary Calvert
To: Dave Cull
Cc: Golds [Godfrey Dodd], All Elected Members, Vaughan Elder [ODT]
Subject: Re: Flooding
Thanks for copying us in.
May we know when you requested that the mudtanks were cleaned thoroughly?
I had thought that it was an initiative from Ruth Stokes, as part of the looking into and reporting back on the flood.
I am also interested in your “fact” that the stormwater system is not capable even at optimal condition and performance……. Do you mean that it was not then, or that it would not be even if we made adjustments and sorted out the mudtanks and fixed the screen/pump and made changes which we have signalled to the general stormwater system which flows through South Dunedin?
If council modelling showed the extent of the flooding would be precisely as it was in the event of that magnitude, what relevance had the problems with the screen/pump and the mudtanks? I guess all the problems in South Dunedin during the flood were localised problems and many of them as a result of water lying about, so did our modelling show that as well?
I understood that there was still more work to be done to understand what we could best do particularly about the interconnection between the water from various sources and what we could afford of the options available.
Do you see the governance part of the Council completely blameless in this process?
Since you have apparently arranged for the mudtanks to be cleared, surely you/we could have done something sooner.
Do we have a role at all in your view, apart from advising people they are wrong when it turns out we may have incomplete information?
As seems true for all of the information surrounding this horrible flood, the more information we receive the more questions we have.
On 26/04/2016, at 5:30 AM, Dave Cull wrote:
Dear Mr Dodd,
Thank you for your email. I am puzzled by the apparent assertion that I have blamed the 2015 June flooding on Climate Change. While that may be the root cause I don’t recall saying that. The cause of the flooding, as has finally been comprehensively reported (for a meeting today) was the fact that the stormwater system in South Dunedin is not capable, even at optimum condition and performance, of coping with the amount of rain that fell over that period. That is a simple calculation given the capacity of the system in both volume and pumping terms, and the severity of the event. The mudbank maintenance failure was reprehensible from both a contractor and staff oversight perspective, especially as exactly the same issue had been raised some four years ago and assurances given that it would not happen again. The fact that some mudbanks were not up to scratch may have caused some localised problems and perhaps prolonged the water lying, but they did not cause the extent of the flooding. That was exactly as Council’s modelling showed it would be in an event of that magnitude.
Six years ago Council received reports stating (among other conclusions) two things. First that more frequent and severe rain events were likely. Second that the stormwater system in South Dunedin was not capable of handling those. So flooding was very likely. Last year the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment issued a report showing that rising ground water, pushed up by sea level rise will increasingly afflict South Dunedin.
It’s most important to recognise that while stormwater and groundwater can each affect the other, they are different and have different causes.
The failure was operational and managerial as Council was repeatedly assured that maintenance was up to scratch.
Council’s challenge now is to address both stormwater and groundwater issues. We have already, at my request, ensured that the stormwater system is in the best shape possible as winter approaches, by having all the mudbanks cleaned properly. Additionally the screen at the Portobello Rd pumping station, which was blocked by debris carried by the overwhelming amount of water, will be replaced by July.
Council will consider that report which has taken such a frustratingly long time to get to us, and determine the next necessary steps.
At your request I have copied this to all elected members.
From: Golds [Godfrey Dodd]
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2016 7:07 PM
To: mayor @dcc.govt.nz
Subject: FW: Flooding
I am sending you this email in that it may make you understand how one ratepayer views your complete failure in the flooding in South Dunedin
WE all know that climate warming is a fact but your glib PR spin and articles in the paper does nothing for your credibility and your lack apology shows that you and the council do not except responsibility for this lack of governance
It is sad that only one of the council appears to have enough bottle to ask you to do in an old fashion way the decent thing
My wish is that you pass this email as part of an agenda item a the next council meeting on how one ratepayer views your lack of understanding in the way a Mayor should carry out his role
I would interested in your reply
From: Golds [Godfrey Dodd]
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2016 10:00 AM
To: Andrew Whiley [DCC]
It is with disappointment reading the failure of governance by the council I was a chairman in those days that was the title of a high school board If the school had a problem which effected the community you had to stand up and take the blame
I do not expect the council elected members to clean mud tanks but when there is failure of this size then the expectation of the community that something is seriously wrong with the governance of the council The glib excuses as regards rise in sea level is the catch cry of the council which you as a member are part of
In my view the council members should of put on gumboots and gone out with the CEO and inspected the mud tanks instead of waiting a year for a report It saddens me to find that people in South Dunedin were not accorded this Instead we had articles written that showed how out of touch the council members were These articles were part of the green PR spin which now blights any decision that this particular council makes All that was needed was clean mud tanks and clear governance by the members of the council not excuses I hope that this is a lesson that you as a council member takes on board when making decisions in the future
ODT 25.4.16 (letter to the editor)
Tue, 26 Apr 2016
ODT: Vandervis forcing mud-tank issue [+ Letters]
A series of emails released by Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis show he was raising concerns about the state of Dunedin’s mud-tanks as long ago as 2011. Cr Vandervis said he released the emails because only publicity forced the council to change its ways. “This publicity is going to make sure it really is sorted once and for all this time.” The release of the emails follows a report released by the Dunedin City Council last week into last June’s flood, which found 75% of mud-tanks in South Dunedin were not properly maintained.
Tue, 26 Apr 2016
ODT: Staff apology for mud-tank failure
Council staff were responsible for not properly overseeing mud-tank maintenance in South Dunedin, not councillors or the mayor, a senior staff member says. Council infrastructure and networks general manager Ruth Stokes started today’s council infrastructure services committee meeting by apologising on behalf of council staff for the failings identified in a report on last June’s flood. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and Crs David Benson-Pope and Lee Vandervis were among those who had raised mud-tank performance prior to the South Dunedin floods, and been given incorrect information by staff. “For that I would like to, on behalf of the executive, apologise,” Ms Stokes. The failure was a management failure and not governance one, she said.
Douglas Field 26.4.16 (detail)
Comment at ODT Online:
Mayor Dave Cull outraged
Submitted by JimmyJones on Tue, 26/04/2016 – 1:49pm.
Mayor Cull says he is outraged at the failure of Fulton Hogan and council staff to adequately ensure that the mudtanks were in working condition. He should also be outraged at his own poor leadership and failure to respond to developing problems. Under his leadership the city continued to build up a backlog of worn-out stormwater pipes and equipment waiting for funding to be allocated. With this lack of funding we have seen the inevitable result of a deteriorating stormwater system. The poor state of the stormwater system was the primary cause of the severity of the flooding at Kaikorai, Mosgiel and South Dunedin last year.
This under-funding of the stormwater renewals is not an accident. Every year the DCC Mayor and councillors decide and vote on this spending – and every year they vote to under-fund the stormwater renewals because they think that a new stadium and a new swimming pool and more bicycle lanes are more important than a functioning stormwater system. The Annual Plan shows that the under-funding will continue next year. Expect the deterioration to continue.
Related Post and Comments:
20.4.16 DCC Politics : Release of Infrastructure Report #SouthDunedinFlood
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