Waihi Beach is a coastal town at the western end of the Bay of Plenty. The name Waihi, “Rising Water”, is said to be named after a stream which flows onto the beach.
Over the course of the last 80 years the once rural community with coastal dunes and intermingled rural and coastal properties, has transformed into a popular holiday destination. The current population of around 2,500 people swells to 20,000 over the holiday periods.
Development has seen a was once flat swamp land, converted to urban environment with a significant shift to hard stand areas with minimal consideration given to stormwater conveyance. This has seen historical settlement patterns increase the consequence of flooding events.
Three significant flood events occurring in two years brought the flooding issues to a heed with the community demanding a solution.
Possible solutions being investigated by WBOPDC Council could see $30M being spent with some dwellings still flooding in certain extreme events. Due to the large expenditure required for a small community careful planning and community engagement would be needed. Existing infrastructure has historically been fragmented and a long term roadmap with clear storm water conveyance pathway was required. Projects would need to be assessed to follow in a logical manner.
WBOPDC undertook an extensive community consultation process ‘not just a storm in a tea cup’, this took Council and the community on a three year journey to better understand flooding in Waihi Beach, solutions, and the level of risk acceptable to the community. Consultation included an Investment Logic Mapping (ILM) process undertaken by Council in partnership with the community, to prioritise expenditure, and inform Council’s Long Term Plan and Levels of Service.