Assessment of stopbank breach underway

Horizons Regional Council emergency management staff are assessing the impact of a stopbank breach on Burkes Drain in the Taonui Basin.

Horizons incident controller Craig Grant says daylight has revealed the extent of the water from the breach has remained relatively localised. 
“With daylight we can see the gap in the stopbank isn’t as large as initially thought, it’s approximately 10 metres wide and located downstream of the Lockwood Road bridge,” says Mr Grant.
“The water that’s flowed out of Burkes Drain has remained within the immediate area and is approximately 1 metre deep. Fortunately, Burkes Drain is starting to recede so the flow into paddocks has stopped and as the drain continues to drop it will drag water out of the area.
“At this stage we don’t know how long it will take for water to clear the paddocks, however, we expect to get a better picture over the next 24 hours. All pumps in the area are working and the best option at this stage is to let gravity do its thing as it gets large volumes of water back out into the drain.”
Mr Grant says Horizons has worked with Manawatū District Council overnight to ensure landowners in the area are aware and offered assistance.
“We understand at least one house self-evacuated overnight and Manawatū District Council will be checking in on affected residents this morning to see if they need anything today. No dwellings have been impacted however a few are inaccessible due to surrounding water. 
“We’re not anticipating there being any animal welfare issues that can’t be managed on farm and would like to thank landowners that moved stock in the dark. Those we have spoken to this morning understand that we’re doing what we can and are supporting each other with stock management.”
Mr Grant says priorities for the day include getting machinery onsite to determine the depth of the stopbank gap and prepare for emergency repairs.
“We won’t be able to repair the gap until water levels drop however will get everything lined up ready to go. While the weather is expected to be settled today, there is some light rain forecasted tomorrow afternoon and we’re eager to fill the gap as soon as possible.
“The cause of the breach is still unknown and recent inspections didn’t suggest there was a weak point in the system. However, our river management assets have been under a lot of pressure with the number of rain events we’ve experienced this winter.
“With that in mind we will also be continuing to assess assets across the wider Manawatū following the rain we had this week. If anyone notices any issues with stopbanks in other areas please get in contact with our river management team on freephone 0508 800 800. 
“We’d like to remind people once again that there will be a decent amount of surface water around for a while as the groundwater table is high and soils remain saturated.”
Up-to-date information on river heights and rainfall is available via Horizons 24-hour toll-free Waterline 0508 4 FLOOD or via our website
Updates will also be posted to the Manawatū-Whanganui Civil Defence page:
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