Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Working on the river bank

I wonder what it is about men and machines that I find so interesting?  I saw this bulldozer working down on the banks of the Hutt River, which runs the length of the Hutt Valley.  Hutt Valley was named after William Hutt, MP.   The river’s headwaters in the southern Tararua Range are a major catchment for the region’s water supply, and runs the length of the and discharges into the Wellington Harbour at Petone.

Wellington’s first settlers arrived at Petone in January 1840, intending to farm the broad Hutt Valley. Less than two months after they arrived, the Hutt River overflowed, inundating their huts and tents. After several more floods during the next few months, most of the settlers abandoned the Hutt Valley and moved to Thorndon, now part of central Wellington.  In 1898 a major flood covered the entire valley floor. This led to the construction of the first major stop banks for protection, some of which are still there today.  Upgrading was done in the 1950s-60s, and they are now high enough to contain a 1-in-100 year flood.

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One method of preventing rivers overflowing their stop banks is to lower the river bed by removing gravel. Speeding the passage of flood waters through an area can involve straightening river channels and removing obstructions such as vegetation.  This work is done as regular flood control maintenance.  I watched the machine  busily working away as it went backwards and forwards up and down the river bank.  Being across the river it looked just like a Tonka toy in the distance.

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