Digging deep for Beach Haven and Birkdale

Spider Digger at work
The spider digger in action

We are rolling up our sleeves to fix the pipes washed out by the Auckland Floods and Cyclone Gabrielle events in Beach Haven and Birkdale.

With more than 180 issues affecting water and wastewater infrastructure across the city, we have been hard at work with our engineering and construction partners inspecting damaged sites and getting robust temporary repairs in place before winter sets in. This allows time for us to put the final touches on plans for more resilient and permanent solutions in the long term.

Our asset upgrades and renewals general manager Suzanne Lucas says: “The reason we’ve taken this approach is to allow time for planning, design and construction to take place while limiting impact to customers and the environment.

“To help get the heavy lifting underway – specifically to help clean up the slip behind Birkenhead College by the Rangatira Reserve in two weeks – we enlisted a walking excavator, commonly known as a spider digger.

“The spider digger will make it a lot easier and quicker for us to remove slips from difficult-to-reach cliff faces and valleys – where the bulk of these repairs need to be carried out – through its ability to overcome many terrain obstacles with minimal environmental impact.” 

Earlier this month (June), the flood recovery team finished temporary repairs on Rosecamp Road, Beach Haven, restoring wastewater services to 10 properties.

“We worked really hard to get this done before winter because the people in these 10 homes had been using portaloos, and we wanted to reconnect them as soon as possible,” Lucas says. “We’re really grateful for their patience while we’ve planned and carried out this complex work.”

The repairs also removed the need for a generator and pumps running a temporary bypass that had served an additional 25 properties.

“Since road access for heavy equipment to these Rosecamp Road properties was not possible, we had to bring in the material and equipment we needed – including a digger – by barge via Charcoal Bay Beach,” Lucas says.

“Once the materials got to site, our recovery team got straight to work securing the area to avoid further slips. Works were further complicated by ongoing rain causing the ground to turn to mush.

“The works were necessary to reconnect a pipe broken across a large slip spanning two properties back to the local wastewater network. The team installed a temporary pipe bridge to replace the pipeline that had failed and a retaining wall to protect an exposed pipeline to the neighbouring property.”

Problem solving and innovative ways of working has been required for some of the sites that experienced significant issues, due to accessibility limitations and work complexity. Recently we even transported a small digger by helicopter to repair slips that had damaged the Upper Nihotupu Dam raw watermain.

Lucas is amazed by the resilience of customers affected by recent weather events and slips.

“Despite the challenging circumstances, most locals have been patient while we carry out investigation works to assess the damage to deliver a more permanent solution for the community.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for sticking by us while we work to repair the damage to our network.