The construction bund (embankment) of the partially built Whangamata marina completely failed recently after rain on 29th June 2009. The entire construction area was flooded as a result of 110cm of rain falling in the previous 24 hours, a reasonably regular rain event for the area. How has this been allowed to happen?
The purpose of the construction bund was to keep sea water out of the construction area during the construction stage and presumably to lessen any impact on natural channel and tidal flows. When the basin flooded, stored materials used to make the marina’s pontoons were washed around the entire area. Even a Port-a-loo floated around on its side. Large pumping equipment belonging to Hirepool was overcome and large amounts of sand being stored near the failed bund were washed straight into the basin made for the marina.
After this flooding the contractors responsible for the marina construction, HEB Construction has a hefty clean up job ahead. The developers, Whangamata Marina society headed by Mick Kelly (President) should be held to account. Mick Kelly admitted in a recent newspaper (Coastal News 2/6/2009) article that they didn’t have contingency plans for flooding, which seems extraordinary.
On the 25th June 2009 the site was visited by long time marina supporter, Prime Minister John Key. Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith used Whangamata Marina as an example for his recently introduced bill for streamlining the Resource Management Act (RMA).
This marina was used as an example of how the current RMA legislation is a road block to economic development in New Zealand. He also used this project to support his move to have the ministerial veto removed from the legislation.
Surfbreak Protection Society have argued from the beginning that scientific evidence has not been adequate to discount risks to harbour sediment flows and the potential effect on the world class sand bar used for surfing. This recent flooding demonstrates that engineering & contingency planning, scientific research (where required) and a robust monitoring programme are critical to the whole process.
We continue to have major concerns about this project’s effects on the natural characteristics of the environment and the lack of controls in place. The newly consented Tairua Marina is just another project that will be built at the environment’s expense.