With winter weather on the horizon, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Moana is reminding rural landowners of their responsibility to protect the region’s stopbanks.
Over the wetter winter months, stopbanks can be damaged by stock and over grazing and landowners can be held liable for any damage.
Rivers and drainage asset manager Kirsty Brown says most farmers and lifestyle block owners know and follow the rules, but it only takes one person to put the wider community at risk.
“Stopbanks are compacted earth banks built next to rivers to help contain water and protect our communities in flooding events.
“At Regional Council we manage over 350km of stopbanks and they are only as strong as their weakest link so it is essential every landowner plays their part.
“While light grazing of sheep and cows is allowed on stopbanks in the dryer months, over winter it’s best to keep all stock off them as much as possible to prevent damage. Pigs, horses and bulls should never be on stopbanks.
“When stopbanks become wet, stock can churn up the ground which can create serious issues. Good grass cover helps to hold together the soil structure underneath – so weakening that top layer can have catastrophic effects on surrounding properties.”
“Vehicles can also damage stopbanks, especially when the ground is wet, so please make sure you aren’t driving trucks, tractors or other machinery on them.”
Toi Moana is also reminding people who live near stopbanks of the new Flood Protection and Drainage Bylaws that came into effect earlier this year.
The Bylaws apply to stopbanks and other flood defences and water controls like drains.
Stock on a stopbank in the Eastern Bay.
They require landowners to apply for permission if they are intending to build or demolish any structure, undertake earthworks or do any plantings in the vicinity of a Regional Council managed flood defence or drain.
Bylaw conditions differ across the region, so Brown is asking anyone living near one of the region’s flood defences to go onto the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s website for full details.
“We need to protect stopbanks so they protect us in times of flooding. If in doubt please check out our website to make sure you know the rules for stopbanks and drains in your area.”
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