South Auckland farmers will have a big clean-up job ahead of them after being impacted by the recent heavy flooding.
Auckland Federated Farmers president Alan Cole said farmers appear to be coping with the deluge and his biggest concern is the wellbeing of farmers on the flats west of Pukekohe.
Cole said he knows of one dairy farm in the Otaua-Ake Ake district that is underwater, although the farmer managed to shift the herd to safety.
At this stage there are no stock losses and most of the impact seems to be to infrastructure such as fencing, power poles and roads.
Because of the sheer volume of water, anything that got in the way of it took damage, he said.
“Farmers seem to be all right. Most made the point of moving [stock] because they knew there was pretty heavy rain. One farmer moved his stock during the night and the next morning, all of his flats were completely flooded.
“One commented to me that he’s had his race moved into the paddock. It’s just been the sheer volume of water. I had water running over my drive and two hours earlier it was barely through the culvert pipe. No infrastructure could have coped.”
Fonterra GM national transport and logistics Paul Phipps said the co-operative has generally been able to collect everything from around Auckland.
“We have been unable to collect only a small amount of milk from a handful of farms.
“The main issue has been in Coromandel where flooding and road slips have made collections more difficult. As such, we have not been able to collect milk from a number of farms in that area.”
The Waikato Regional Council’s regional flood co-ordinator, Derek Hartley, said on January 29 it will keep liaising with MetService around forecasting weather for the region.
“MetService has told us there will continue to be localised downpours in the Coromandel Peninsula, Waitomo and South Waikato areas,” said
“These weather systems can be notoriously hard to predict, so there’s a high degree of uncertainty around timing, rainfall volumes and location, but some downpours could be as high as 40mm an hour. This intensity of rain can cause surface flooding, as well as rivers and streams to rise rapidly, so people should consider travelling only if they need to.
“We have our teams in the field inspecting our stopbanks, pump stations and floodgates to ensure they continue working as they should.”
Waikato Regional Council and power company Mercury are working together to manage flows in the Waikato Hydro System in response to the rain.
To create storage through the system, the Karāpiro dam is starting to discharge an increased volume of water, and outflows from Lake Taupō are being reduced for the next 12 to 24 hours.
“This situation will continue to be reviewed, taking into account rainfall over this period. Our flood protection scheme is expected to manage the higher flows, but there will be a rise in water levels downstream on the Waikato River, which may result in some flooding on low-lying land.”
The Pinnacles rain gauge for January has so far recorded total rainfall of 1224mm, which is more than the 1133.5mm that fell in July 1998, making it the wettest month since records began in March 1991.
The Te Kūiti rain gauge recorded rainfall greater than a 100-year average return interval for 12- and 24-hour durations.
Hartley said there is a high likelihood of further landslips affecting the Coromandel Peninsula, in particular.
“We’re taking a precautionary approach in our advice because of the unprecedented rainfall we’ve already received and the unpredictability of what’s to come,” Hartley said.