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Maintaining drains no brainer

STR 9745

Locals would face more flooding, washouts and potholes on rural roads if it wasn’t for QRS maintaining 30km of unsealed roadside drainage every year. 

The work might not sound exciting, says QRS road maintenance manager Tony O’Sullivan, but if roadside drain maintenance is ignored the results can be disastrous, dangerous and disruptive for road users.

“There are three main things that roading maintenance companies have to get right: drainage, drainage, and drainage. You get that right and you haven’t got a problem.”

Tony says QRS maintains and installs roadside drains, storm water channels, culverts and other similar drainage features to convey storm water from the road surface and roadbed to an outlet such as main drains, creeks, and major waterways.

The systems are typically designed based on an upstream drainage area, historic drainage patterns, and water table levels to ensure adequate drainage, ease of maintenance, protection of water quality, and public safety.

QRS has a contract with Wairoa District Council to maintain the region’s 560km of unsealed roads and has an obligation to carry out a minimum of 30km of drain maintenance per annum.

Tony says Mother Nature is a fickle mistress and the work is never ending. “These days we seem to get a one-in-every-ten-year weather event every year, and a one-in-every-100-year weather event every ten years. Deforestation is also contributing to debris.”

In June 2019 QRS staff worked on maintaining the drains high up on Mangaone Road north of Wairoa.

“There’s worse places to work,” says seasoned machine operator Che Smith.

Che says he and fellow staff enjoyed the views south over Nuhaka, Opoutama, and Kinikini where they could see the Nuhaka River pouring into the ocean. Portland Island was also visible in the distance.

15 July 2019

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Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. My strength is not mine alone, it is the strength of many.

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