A remote flood monitoring station on the Waiwhakaiho river has been vandalised and equipment stolen, leaving the community vulnerable to unexpected flooding.
Damage to the station established in 1991 is so severe that the Taranaki Regional Council has to decommission the site and start fresh in another location says Regan Phipps, Science and Technology Manager.
"We're gutted to find the site beyond repair. Our flood monitoring networks are a hugely important asset.”
"This particular station was used to monitor flood flows in the lower Waiwhakaiho River, generating flood warning alerts.
“These alerts provide a final warning for industry and businesses in the Waiwhakaiho Valley in the event of a flood and ensures the public knows when to take other precautions or when road access may be at risk."
The site was initially broken into at 3am on 23 March and after being discovered by Council staff, was padlocked shut to stop public access. Unfortunately, the site was broken into again that weekend, the monitoring site was further damaged, and all monitoring equipment was stolen.
"The site was broken into while there was a severe weather event in progress, and river levels were high. Having no data being captured presented a risk to the community. The cost to replace equipment and rebuild a site is also significant, and that cost is carried by the region’s ratepayers. It’s frustrating given the equipment will have very little value for any use outside of what it is intended for" says Mr Phipps.
Mr Phipps encourages anyone with information about vandalism at this site to call the Police, and asks the public to get in touch with either Council or the Police if they see people tampering with monitoring equipment.
The Council operates 22 flood warning stations across the region, with key warning sites in the Waitōtara River, Waiwhakaiho River and Waitara River catchments. They are among the 62 automated environmental monitoring sites the Council operates across Taranaki. See www.trc.govt.nz/environment/maps-and-data/regional-overview/(external link).