Seconds after this photo was taken on a Manurewa building site, this stray dog became stuck in a mud pit “like quicksand” – the extra water is runoff from a neighboring park with non-functioning drains.
Numerous requests to Auckland Council to repair damaged drains in a neighboring park have failed to get a result for Auckland developer Kirsty Merriman, who says water runoff is constantly flooding her Manurewa building site.
In the most recent downfall, a stray dog became stuck in a mud pit on site. Builder Wagner Fernandes says the dog was “really struggling” and trying to swim in the mud.
“It was like quicksand, really mushy. It was an ugly-looking dog, and my apprentice and myself weren’t sure how much we would be able to help, or if we would risk being bitten. But we were preparing to go and help when he managed to struggle out.”
Merriman says she has had to install extra drainage “beyond what I should have done” to cope with the runoff and to keep the builders safe on site (and stray animals).
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“I am incredibly frustrated,” she says. “I know I am in an overland flow path, and that has always been the case with this property, but we have allowed for that and installed all our drains and should be OK. I have even installed Novacoil around the perimeter of my property, and that has cost me a lot of money.”
The developer says she had ProDrill do CPT testing and GeoTech do an inspection, and, as of early last year there was no drainage runoff issue. “This has arisen since August 2022. And while we do get water on the site it’s the extra flooding in from under the fence that is causing the problem. In the last rainfall, the builders couldn’t even work – that’s how boggy it was on the edges.”
Merriman has documented numerous calls to the council, and on January 2 logged the issue on the internet portal and received an acknowledgment that the problem was classified as “critical”. She received a reference number in a subsequent call, but was told it was not a City Care problem. During a third call she was told the case was closed as “there wasn’t a problem”.
The developer subsequently requested someone to meet her on site, but she was not notified of a time, and she was not present when a council representative visited. She was then told it was a Wastewater problem, so she called again and received a new reference number.
She did then manage to meet with another representative on site who said he could see that two of the drains may not have worked – including the drain that should be protecting Merriman’s property.
“Then a few days later I received an email saying the problem was with Community Facilities. I have now been given three to four different reference numbers and had about eight phone calls. It has been incredibly time-consuming, and I won’t be the only developer complaining about this sort of thing.
“I don’t care who the problem belongs to. Each phone call is almost the same: I get through the initial selection process, give my reference number, a pleasant person listens so nicely to my ‘problems’. They sympathize; they learn about the problem; they put me on hold, and then they come back with either another reference number or telling me about some action. Net outcome – nothing.”
Merriman says she has told the council a dog almost lost its life in a pit, and is now desperate for a resolution before the next major rainfall causes more problems. Although she says she has put in additional measures, including extra gravel, “so no more desperate dogs end up fighting for their lives”.
“Any stray animal could end up in trouble otherwise, and South Auckland has a growing problem with stray dogs.”
Craig Mcilroy, general manager, Healthy Waters, Auckland Council says the council is aware of the issues that the property owner is experiencing. “We empathize with them regarding their frustration at the delays in finding a resolution.
“Unfortunately, this is quite a complex case and our Healthy Waters team has visited the property three times over the past two weeks to determine the cause of the issues and make recommendations regarding a solution.
“Given the property’s position at the bottom of a sloping reserve, during heavy rainfall, of which we’ve seen a lot lately, it is in the path of natural overland waterways. During the course of their investigations, our contractors determined that the drain coil which runs along the fence line beside the property is not adequate to capture the overflow.
“As such, they have made recommendations for the existing manhole in the reserve to be upgraded and a large catch pit and swale (a movable grassed ditch) to be installed. This will help redirect the water to the public drain.
“This has been logged as a critical job and we want to reassure Ms Merriman that we are working hard to resolve this problem as quickly as possible.”