Marlborough community values shape Murphys Creek stormwater solution

Today the Marlborough District Council Assets and Services Committee voted in favour of a community sanctioned stormwater management solution for the Murphys Creek catchment. The successful proposal is the result of a Cawthron Institute facilitated project that brought together various local stakeholders. 

Murphys Creek borders many Blenheim properties, businesses, and public spaces, ultimately flowing into the city’s major waterway, the Taylor River. The area’s stormwater network is underperforming and development of the re-zoned land in the upper reaches of the Murphys Creek catchment will add further pressure to the network.

“With previous attempts to solve the Murphys Creek stormwater network problem falling short and a costly court process on the cards, Marlborough District Council (MDC) identified the need for change.

“MDC funded the Murphys Creek Structured Decision Making project because they recognise the importance of finding a solution that incorporates the views and values of catchment stakeholders.

“To achieve this a Collaborative Stakeholder Group was formed and members included catchment residents, local business owners, iwi representative, a developer, Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, and MDC.

“Initially members of the group were at loggerheads, but by the end of the project everyone reached a consensus,” said Cawthron scientist Mark Newton.

The collaborative Stakeholder Group’s proposal accepted by MDC today is expected to cost $3.8 Million, with benefits including better water quality, lower flood peaks, and increased ecosystem health.

Under this proposal, any land re-zoned for urban development in the catchment will have a maximum allowable runoff of 6 l/s/ha and stormwater from the Aston Street area will be treated before it’s discharged into Murphys Creek.

Outlets from properties in the commercial/business area east of the Murphys Creek culvert across Middle Renwick Road will be retrofitted with filter/treatment devices and stormwater from these same areas will be diverted to the Taylor River via the Pump Station just downstream of the High Street Bridge. 

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett expressed support for the process and is pleased with the outcome.

“Murphys Creek is vitally important as far as our river management is concerned.

“I found the collaborative process to be an excellent way of dealing with this issue and I really enjoyed the opportunity to bring people from different perspectives together,” said Mr Leggett.

The Collaborative Stakeholder Group participated in a series of workshops where they were provided with the scientific and technical information needed to support their decision-making; they also attended a field trip to key sites around the catchment. 

“Through the collaborative process important values were identified. The members of the Collaborative Stakeholder Group used these to consider ten different possible solutions to the stormwater problem.

“The resulting proposal formally accepted by the council today was unanimously agreed by the group. It incorporates economic, environmental, culture, and social values.

“This shows what can be achieved when local government takes a community-centred collaborative approach,” said Mr Newton.