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We will need to protect our coasts from sea level rise, but how?

July 7, 2016

A recent Wellington City Council news release highlights that in the last three years around $4 million has been spent on sea walls at Shelly, Princess, Karaka, Island and Breaker Bays, plus there have been numerous smaller sea wall and road repairs around the southern and eastern coasts.

This is an issue that is not going to go away. Sea levels around Wellington have been rising slowly over the last century and will continue to rise. At  information evenings I attended recently to discuss the proposed harbour dredging, I was told that NIWA predictions are for around another 30 cm of sea level rise in the next 35 years. Warmer air temperatures also mean that the air can hold more moisture, leading to more intense storms.

All of this means that the Council will need to set aside some sizable budgets for adaption to climate change; not only hard infrastructure such as sea walls and storm water upgrades (Queens Drive has already had a storm water pipe upgrade and Kilbirnie is expected to be getting a pumping station next year), but also other measures such as the setting back of roads and planting of extra vegetation.

In Wellington we are fortunate that on the whole roads are between our beaches and private property. This means that adaption measures to protect the roads will also serve to protect private property.

The cost of all of this will be substantial, and needs to be a priority. Council has recently invested $9 million in a state-of-the-art computer modelling system, which can be programmed to reflect the present water network and will help officers from WCC and Wellington Water work out the most cost-effective solutions.

It is difficult to start conversations about such topics, but it is necessary.


From → Resilience

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