The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1879.
It will be remembered that at the meet ing of the County Council, held on No vember 5, a petition was presented by 35 residents in the Forks district, asking that they should be specially taxed, so as to enable the County Council to subsidise their funds, with a view of constructing protective works to save their lands from destruction by floods in the river ; and, in addition, requesting the Council to grant the services of the County engineer. This application was backed up by a similar one from the Upper Ashburton Road Board, who expressed their willingness to assess their roads at a liberal value, and pay a tax for their protection. The applicationswere granted, and the engineer in his usual undemonstrative manner, wentabout the work, and had his plans ready and tenders invited for the work against the special meeting of the Council held on the 26th ult. At that time we despatched our special reporter to visit the site of the works, which were described by him in these columns, so far as those contemplated by the Council were concerned ; since then, however, complaints have been made in this paper by a resident in the Forks that the works now let to the contractor do not protect all the weak points of the banks of the river. With a view to having some correct data to work upon, a member of our staff again visited the north branch on Monday, when a tolerably good freshet was in the river. He found that the complaint made was not without foundation, as at a point on Tisch’s land, nearly opposite Greenstreet, the river was not only threatening but actually overflowing its banks ; and, what is worse, the bed of the river is so filled up with shingle that it is at a higher level than the adjoining land on the south side. A gully debouches from the river here, carrying a large ■ stream in flood time, which finds its way across Tisch’s and Sargent's paddocks to the Alford Forest road, doing enormous damage both to land and road. . Some immediate action at this point is absolutely necessary, as day by day the evil is intensified, and the works in progress further up the river may pro- . bably have a damaging effect on this point. When the ratepayers in the Forks undertook to tax themselves for protection from floods, they did so in the expectation of each and all benefitting by the works to be constructed ; and it is the bounden duty of the authorities to see that no one is unfairly treated in so grave a matter. The question of the erection of a bridge, or the formation of a road, is one which could in most cases be delayed without much injury or inconvenience to the public ; but a case such as this, where valuable property is in imminent danger, and the main road to the up-country districts is threatened with demolition, is one which will not brook delay, and some prompt action is necessary on the part of the Council. On the south, branch, too, the river is making sad havoc with its north bank, just opposite Reed's mill, a fine paddock with clover up to the horses’ bellies being gradually but surely oaten away by the action of the freshets. Here, however, ’ the work of protection is by no means p difficult, but whilst nothing is done, in the shape of stopping the river in its career, die paddocks are getting less in area year i by year.
On the general question of protection we think a good deal could be done by the farmers themselves by the application of a little ingenuitv and labor. We have known a conklcrable stream turned by the simple plan of anchoring a tree in the current, at a p >int where the river impinged, and there are few farms'.but can boast of gum trees of sufficient dimensions for such a purpose. Taxation and paying for expensive works done by public bodies is all very well : but self-reliance and a stiff upper lip set against difficulties do a. deal more in the long run.