The popular misconception about sand being taken out of the Todd River is that this is done as a flood mitigation measure, deepening the channel to allow a greater volume of water to flow within the banks. In truth, it would take major works to achieve this, including the removal of causeways and the re-location or re-laying of services that are under the river.
The works that are undertaken are better described as "channel improvement" to prevent channel migration and bank scouring.
The Town Council's Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton explains that this is done "to ensure the river doesn't change course and endanger the properties close to the existing river banks."
However, works at Heavitree Gap are seen as a priority and would contribute to reducing the threat of flooding. "Silt, fines and sand" deposited at the gap by flows have "grassed up" with couch and kikuya, matted into a solid mound (pictured) that now stands well above the Bloomfield drainage line. These conditions could lead to the river breaking its banks in a Q20, let alone a Q100.
Extensive works removing sand and weeds were done to address this very same problem at the start of the decade, so why hasn't there been regular maintenance? KIERAN FINNANE reports.