GW Endorsement for co-funding on flood protection

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Greater Wellington’s just released, Climate change projections for west of Wellington’s Tararua and Remutaka Ranges, shows the urgency of bringing government co-funding into flood protection schemes, says chair Daran Ponter.

The report paints an alarming picture in which seasonal rainfall in parts of the region is likely to increase by up 16 per cent, with increasingly frequent episodes of heavy rain, damaging downpours and potential floods.

By 2040, annual rainfall is forecast to increase by up to 8 per cent throughout the region, with much higher falls in some areas, especially in winter where increases of 16 per cent could occur. 

Extreme rainfall events are projected to become more frequent and more severe, with rainfall heavier and lasting longer. There will be considerable potential to increase flash flooding.

Three areas in the Wellington region are particularly vulnerable to flooding.  Ōtaki/Ōtaki Beach, the Kāpiti Coast from Waikanae to Paekākāriki and Masterton are all at risk, and massive investment is going into the RiverLink scheme in Lower Hutt to protect more than $1 billion in assets, including many owned by the crown.

“This new report shows it’s increasingly obvious that the frequency and severity of flood events will increase with climate change, and their impact on valuable local, regional, and national interests is clear,” says Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter.

“The case for central government co-investing in flood protection schemes is equally clear.  A step change is required to protect our communities by further developing the resilience provided by our flood protection schemes – and the time for this step change is now.”

Co-investment by councils and the Crown will also help reduce the huge costs of clean-up that we’ve seen in Westport and Nelson following recent floods, by proactively preparing for such events with critical flood protection infrastructure upgrades that will help mitigate the impact of climate change related destruction.

Mr Ponter says communities can no longer rely on insurance for flood protections, as companies are either exiting from the market or are making it more difficult for property owners to get cover.

“Without increased public intervention, the risks to lives and properties – including extensive and valuable crown assets – increase every day.

“The release of the Government’s report on vulnerable communities exposed to flood hazard underscores the urgency of a joint approach to investment in flood protection schemes.”

“Greater Wellington is doing its part to protect regional communities but we shouldn’t be asked to effectively guarantee crown assets for nothing.

“There is much more to do, but there is only so much we can or should borrow or rate for. It’s now time for the government to come to the party and resume co-investment. We have proven capability to make the necessary step change to flood protection schemes, and we’re asking the Government to step up with us. The alternative could be declining resilience to flooding at a time that the threat of inundation has never been greater.”

Kāpiti councillor Jocelyn Prvanov will be Chair of the new KCDC Climate and Environment Committee and says she certainly gives her support to a co-funding model on flood protection between Great Wellington and the government.

“We are all too familiar with rain and storm events becoming more frequent and intense, and they will unfortunately only get worse.

“It is also very important that our Council does its best to mitigate the effects of these rain and storm events by ensuring that our stormwater infrastructure is fully functioning through good maintenance in the first instance, and good design and planning.”

Cr Prvanov says this is even more crucial moving forward when it’s expected that 30,000 more people will live here by 2050.

“These hard surfaces created by the dwellings, the associated roads and other infrastructure, will reduce the capacity of the ground to absorb water, hence create even more surface water.”