Wellington Scoop
Network

Regional Council updates flood protection policy – natural movement for rivers

News from GWRC
Working with nature by allowing rivers natural movement is among the key points from the Regional Council’s updated climate change flood protection policy put before Greater Wellington’s Climate Committee today.

While the policy strongly advocates for this important work to be updated in line with the latest guidance and build on the work already being done, some of its resulting actions are in unchartered waters of innovation for the council notes Graeme Campbell, the council’s Manager, Flood Protection.

“I’m buoyed by the innovative developments this will bring to flood protection projects, communities and the environment as well has how it can be used when considering landslide and coastal inundation risk”.

“It will allow us to build stop banks that are adaptable to future change, take more consideration in where new buildings are located and critically, find a balance between dependable protection for homes and businesses while giving the rivers room to move naturally”.

Through the Flood Hazard Modelling Standard, a bespoke set of modelled scenarios relating to climate change, and ultimately into cities’ district plans the future benefit of the policy is shown explains Graeme Campbell.

“New developments that fall into flood risk areas will be identified prior to construction and any changes in flood vulnerability to existing areas will be assessed with the changing climate in mind”

The new approach responds to the latest guidance from the Ministry for the Environment which reveal a projected increase in climate change driven rainfall of between 20 to 30% by 2120 in some catchments, the new basis for planning for increased rainfall.

Greater Wellington Councillor and Deputy Chair of the Climate Change Committee Ros Connelly says “it’s a stark reminder of the ever-growing risk we face from climate change.

For Cr. Connelly, the recent example of the eroded banks of Te Awa Kairangi/Hutt River due to severe weather and rainfall earlier in July is a key driver for action.

“It bolsters the decision to include climate change planning and the work done will ultimately contribute to safeguarding our communities from these unpredictable, volatile events”.

With the reality of these flooding events, an exponential risk, it’s clear a policy and resulting projects are only a first, albeit positive step towards effectively managing these events.

“With climate change, ensuring our policies and resulting projects continue to adapt over time is key” says Cr. Connelly.