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13 April 2020

A few days of rain in the early stages of the national COVID-19 lockdown has meant a team of 28 workers in the Citycare Water Christchurch land drainage and waterways team has been busy clearing stormwater grates and checking essential stormwater outflows.

Healthy water systems are essential to our lives in New Zealand, so many Citycare Water teams around the country are continuing their ‘business as usual’ work to protect our waterways despite the national lockdown.

“There are hundreds of grates around Christchurch but an essential 150 or so need to be specifically monitored in wet weather due to flooding risk,” Operations Manager for Water, Wastewater and Land Drainage Alan Gramstrup said.

These essential grates and stormwater outflows are the first line of flooding protection for properties adjacent to Christchurch streams, waterways and tributaries that lead to the Avon, Heathcote and Styx Rivers, he said.

In addition, the crews check and clear numerous sites on Banks Peninsula to minimise the risk of properties flooding.

Normally the teams work in two-person crews, but due to COVID-19 staff are operating solo for personal safety and social distancing, Alan said.

When it’s not raining, the crews will continue to work from their Milton Street base during the lockdown and are focused on essential work for the Christchurch City Council.

They are ensuring the bottoms of streams and waterways are clear so water flows continuously and removing loose litter and debris so the stream outlet structures and grills do not become blocked, Alan said.

At peak times in the summer the land drainage and waterways team in Christchurch includes up to 55 staff clearing and grass cutting on up to 720 kilometres of stream beds, clearing aquatic weed from some 60km of river beds as well as undertaking numerous tasks on stormwater pipes and culverts – all helping to bolster the city’s image as the beautiful garden city.

Stormwater March 2

This grate in Mairehau was checked by Citycare Water Christchurch land drainage and waterways team member Will Bartlett for flooding risk during the height of the rain.