Earthworks . . . Environment Southland contractors upgraded and extended the Boundary Creek stopbank about half way between Gore and Mataura last year. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Stopbank improvements across Southland are under way this month.

Environment Southland catchment operations manager Randal Beal said improvements were being made to stopbanks in Gore, Mataura, Wyndham and Invercargill.

“Stopbanks are a critical part of Southland’s flood defences, providing a level of security in the face of potentially devastating flooding effects,” he said.

Work would include tree removal, root raking and stopbank realignment, strengthening and extensions, he said.

Rock armour will be placed for Mataura’s flood protection upgrade to the Waimumu stopbank, which began last month.

In Wyndham, work begins next week to build new sections of stopbank and culverts.

The Waihopai stopbanks in Invercargill will have their height increased and riprap rock installed. That work will start later this month. The cycling track will also be rebuilt.

Similar stopbank upgrades in Gore will start in April.

“Stop banks in urban areas protect homes, businesses and infrastructure, while the rural schemes protect high-value production land and property outside the stopbanks.”

The four upgrades are part of the Resilient River Communities project, which is one of the climate resilience programmes being delivered by Environment Southland.

The projects are co-funded by Environment Southland and central government, through Kanoa, the regional development unit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and part of the 2020 budget’s $210 million for climate resilience and flood protection projects across New Zealand.

Local contractor Linton Contracting Ltd was awarded the contracts for the Gore and Wyndham sites and Ryal Bush Transport Ltd for Invercargill.

Downer NZ Ltd will complete the Waimumu work.