20 Oct 2023

Tensions high in Franz Josef over river management

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 20 October 2023

Photo: West Coast Regional Council / RNZ

Tensions are high in Franz Josef as submissions open on a proposal over what to do about the river that runs through the town and is increasingly becoming a flood risk.

Stopbanks built to hold back the Waiho River are no longer thought to be enough when it's in flood, but there's not enough funding - even with central Government support - to upgrade them to a point to protect the town.

The West Coast township and tourism operators are mostly on the north bank - and the south is mostly made up of farms.

The West Coast Regional Council has put two options on the table.

The first is to do nothing - although the report warns there's a high chance the river will burst on the south side anyway, risking loss of life, livestock and property.

The second option - and the one recommended in the report - is to take down the southern stop banks where the farms are located and buy out the properties on that side of the river, which would inevitably flood.

West Coast councillor Peter Haddock speaks with Kathryn Ryan.