A Peek Into the Future for Point Wells

On Saturday, 11th October three HarbourCare members went down to the seaside of the new subdivision at Point Wells. It was 10am, just before the peak of a spring tide. It was a pleasant spring day with a light Southerly breeze and a slight chop on the water. We were very impressed by the volume of seawater covering the area the Council has designated as Esplanade Reserve”.

Esplanade reserve

The sea was flowing vigorously into the drain which drains the subdivision and which was revealed to be well below high tide level. This drain certainly works at low tide but various attempts to keep out the incoming tide have proved to be completely unsuccessful.

Pic_1011_080

Water flowed from the sea and into the drain during the period of our visit. In one case it was flowing immediately in front of the house built less than 5 metres from the water’s edge and from there over a stone embankment creating a waterfall into the drain.

Drain behind bund filling with seawater

The drain, which is included in the Council’s definition of “Reserve” is obviously below MHWS and therefore should be described as “Seabed”.The water was also flowing up along and under the boardwalk (which was intended to take us to the “Esplanade Reserve”!!) and then pouring into the drain. A third problem we noted was two large pipes through the earth bund constructed many years ago to keep the sea at bay. The pipes are new and have flood gates on the seaward side and are obviously intended to allow water out of the drain to the sea but not the reverse. This allows the Council to pretend this is not part of the seabed. However a significant quantity of seawater was bubbling up beside the pipes and was also helping to fill the drain.On our return we photographed the culvert pipe under the street which is intended to take all drainage from the subdivision. When the photo was taken seawater was still flowing back up the drain and into the pipe. The pipe is submerged and it is less than 1/2 meter below the street surface.

Drain from subdivision

Further evidence of a problem with this drain was the remnant of seawater in a little garden adjacent to a cess pool on the side of the street (to the right of the photo) which indicated that the sea had overflowed this cess pit on an earlier high tide.

A member of the AC staff has admitted there was an error in planning boundaries for the subdivision and it was abundantly clear that the Council has not only not provided an Esplanade Reserve as required by the RMA but also has allowed private purchase of land below Mean High Water Spring which contravenes the Foreshore and Seabed Act. There are boundary marker pegs well out in the sea in the sea at this tide including the one in the photo which is seaward of the bund and about 10 metres below MHWS.

Boundarty peg in the sea

To make matters worse the Council has allowed the building of a house within 5 metres of MHWS and although this building is elevated, their water tanks appear to be only marginally above the tide level. A storm event coinciding with a high tide will put this house and others at extreme risk. It is obvious to us that at least part of this subdivision is at serious risk of inundation and that no Esplanade Reserve can ever now be provided.

Now we watch with concern as the next part of the subdivision prepares to develop. Will the Auckland Council repeat the errors made by planning staff in the Rodney District Council or will they have the courage to pull the subdivision back onto reasonably safe ground? The RDC planners were made aware of the problems but chose to ignore them. The Unitary Plan attempts to address the issues but will it be ignored for the sake of “money now, problems later”?.

Refusal to acknowledge the rising sea levels is a degree of irresponsibility we should not tolerate.

Comments

  1. That is a little more than crazy, both the house buyers and the council, why would anyone buy property so close to sea-level.

    • Roger Grace says:

      So they can sell it quickly and make a lot of money, and be gone with their profits before the real inundation problems become obvious to the new owner.

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