Flood warning gear targeted in attack

A vandalism attack on a remote automated monitoring station left communities and livelihoods vulnerable to unexpected flooding, the Taranaki Regional Council says.

Council hydrology officers discovered the damage while checking the network of monitoring stations in the upper Waitōtara Valley catchment. Temporary repairs were made to get the station back online but full repairs will not be finished for another two weeks.

The stations generate automated phone alerts to locals when rivers reach certain trigger levels, so that farmers know when they should move stock or take other precautions, and communities and roading contractors know when road access may be at risk.

“Our flood monitoring networks are hugely important, so we were gutted to find that vandals had been at work,” says Regan Phipps, the Council’s Science Manager – Hydrology/Biology. “This vandalism is a huge disservice to those communities.”

He says anyone who sees people tampering with monitoring equipment should call the police immediately.

The Council operates 22 flood warning stations across the region, with the key ones in the Waitōtara River, Waiwhakaiho River and Waitara River catchments.

They are among the Council’s 62 automated environmental monitoring sites across Taranaki, all of which feed data to the TRC website. See www.trc.govt.nz/regional-overview/