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Dam plan worked: BOP council

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/04/2017

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has defended control of the Matahina Dam, saying it was able to reduce the flow of the Rangitaiki River by 12 per cent and Edgecumbe flooding could have been much worse.

The 50-year-old and 86-metre-high earth dam of the Matahina Hydroelectric Power Scheme is the largest of its kind in the North Island.

There has been some criticism that TrustPower could have emptied the lake behind the dam before the remnants of Cyclone Debbie swept across the country, bringing heavy rainfall and flooding.

Former Whakatane mayor Colin Holmes says it was a repeat of flooding in 2004.

"Poor information, poor flood management protocols between the regional council and Trustpower. Result: disaster," he told RNZ.

But the council says TrustPower started lowering the lake from lunchtime on Monday, well before the predicted rainfall, which turned out to be unprecedented.

Eastern Bay of Plenty's stopbanks were designed for a one-in-100 year event but river flows had peaked 30 per cent larger, it said in a statement.

The flood management plan for the Matahina Dam was designed to take 100 cubic metres per second off the flood peak.

"We exceeded this by taking off 110 cumecs. If we hadn't used the storage in Matahina dam, 12 per cent more water would have flowed down the river at the peak of the flood," flood manager Peter Blackwood said.

"Tough decisions were made well and our data shows that those have paid off."

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