Preparatory works started to remedy issue at Foxton Cemetery

Published on October 10, 2017


Council has started preparatory works to remedy the flooding at Foxton Cemetery, but more fine weather is needed in order to permanently resolve the issue.

Over the past few months Horowhenua has experienced unprecedented rainfall, which has saturated the grounds meaning water cannot dissipate as it usually does, but rather pools.

Figures from our rain gauge show that Horowhenua has had 50% more rainfall over the past few months, compared to the same period last year and 141% more than in 2015 over the same time.

Councillor Jo Mason, whose grandfather is buried at the cemetery, says unfortunately there is no quick fix. “While it is distressing to see our loved ones flooded at the cemetery, the remedial work needs to be a long term solution not something done on the fly”.

Works planned include adding in a soak pit, a solution which has worked well elsewhere at the cemetery and attenuation pipes. 

Parks and Property manager Arthur Nelson says while Council have had a solution planned for a while, it cannot be implemented until the ground dries.

“We need to be able to provide storage for 12 cubic metres of water. In the meantime we are pumping the water out as necessary and did so again yesterday. Realistically however, contractors need 7-10 consecutive dry days. To start before the ground had dried would create even more of a problem” he said.

The issue is that the soil is close to 100% saturation which means it cannot store any more water and the water table following the preparatory works at Foxton cemetery is only 50mm below the existing soil level.  

Soil contains air gaps which fill with water when it rains. When the soil reaches 100% saturation it cannot take any more water, this is why we are seeing surface flooding and ponding water. When it rains consistently the way it has done in Horowhenua over the past few months, the ground gets saturated and those pockets fill up with water. If diggers were set to work in such saturated conditions they would entirely destroy the soil structure compounding flooding issues.

“We have been really unlucky with the weather in our district this winter. Not only is the cemetery affected but local farmers are too. You only have to see the news to know that local farmers are facing significant financial loss, due to this unexpected rain” Councillor Mason said.

Suggestions that the issue has been caused due to a road being added 18 months ago are incorrect.

“The issue started this year, when rainfall increased” Mr Nelson said.

Council were first notified that this section of the cemetery had flooded in May. At the time it seemed to be an anomaly, however the occasions increased from July following the intense rain.

“Since then we have been pumping the water out when necessary. This is and has always been a priority for Council. Yesterday contractors were able to start preparatory works and we are hopeful that in the near future we can get on and do what we need too”.

Council will continue to work with Funeral Directors and families in the meantime Mr Nelson said.