Horizons gets $5m boost for flood forecasting, early warning systems

Posted 7 October 2023 by Moana Ellis
Damage on the Pohangina River following Cyclone Gabrielle.

Damage on the Pohangina River following Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo: Supplied / LDR

Horizons Regional Council will invest nearly $5 million on flood forecasting and early warning systems in Manawatū and Whanganui.

The council announced on Friday it has received more than $4.2 million from the Local Government Flood Resilience Co-Investment Fund to build resilience to the impacts of climate change and recover from Cyclone Gabrielle.

Horizons catchment operations group manager Dr Jon Roygard said the work would upgrade flood forecasting and communications resilience across the region.

It would also improve early warning systems, update flood forecasting models and provide new monitoring stations and radio upgrades, he said.

“We have received $3.645m for this project, which is … a large contribution to the $4.98m needed for this work.”

Roygard said the government support would “vastly accelerate” work that would have taken Horizons years to complete on its own.

“It also relieves some of the financial burden on ratepayers who have already contributed over $9m to Cyclone Gabrielle repairs, plus what they’ve spent privately as well.”

Pending discussions with the council, it was likely that Horizons would make up the remaining funds needed through its 2024-34 Long-Term Plan, Roygard said.

The funding will also be used to back up power installations and support regional flood mapping and a regional flood vulnerability study.

A second Horizons project has received $640,000 of government co-funding for a $1.2m programme to reduce risk to people and houses in the Pohangina-Ōroua Catchment.

“This will involve a range of resilience upgrades through the area including support for work at a number of locations where communities have been at risk, such as the Pohangina Village,” Roygard said.

“It will also include a contribution to an options assessment for flood protection at Saddle Road and will establish a stopbank at Tōtara Reserve to protect the grounds and surrounding road infrastructure.”

The Local Government Flood Resilience Co-Investment Fund is administered by the Cyclone Recovery Unit, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“Horizons will be working with the funding providers over the coming weeks and will get the programmes moving quicker straight away,” Roygard said.

“The work involved in these packages will roll through next year and is planned to be completed by June 2025.

“Throughout the process, we will be working with our emergency management partners including our city and district councils.”

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