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Climate change requires HB flood protection

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BayBuzz04 August 2020

Ironic, isn’t it?!

Mostly we think of climate change as meaning hotter, drier … drought even.

Yet today the Government announced $19.2 million in ‘climate resilience’ funding coming to Hawke’s Bay for four flood protection programmes:

  • Heretaunga Plains Flood Control Scheme – Tutaekuri, Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers areas, where 80 per cent of the population live;
  • Wairoa River Scheme – Ferry Road flood protection;
  • Upper Tukituki Flood Control Scheme near State Highway 50 Bridge to protect bridge;
  • Upper Tukituki Flood Control Scheme – stalled through lack of funds.

The weather dynamics behind this heightened risk do stem from greater heat — causing more water evaporation from our surrounding warmer waters, more heavily water-laden clouds, more intense rainstorms … even cyclones.

Cyclones worse than Hawke’s Bay’s legendary 1988 Cyclone Bola, with these results in our region:

  • Flooding affected some 3600 hectares of farming and horticultural land, with the associated losses estimated at $90 million.
  • 1765 farmers were affected by damage to their land and crops and stock losses. Cyclone Bola hit some areas just as harvesting was about to start.
  • Repairs to Gisborne’s water supply cost an estimated $6.6 million. Damage to East Coast forests was estimated at $8.6 million.
  • Insurance payouts for the whole event totalled $37 million ($63 M in 2008 dollars), excluding Earthquake Commission claims .

As our regional Civil Defence website notes, “floods and storms are the most frequent hazard in Hawke’s Bay”. Here’s their discussion of the risks.

Does climate change have your attention yet?! Do you think our councils are doing enough to prepare?

Photo credit: Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank

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BayBuzz04 August 2020

One response to “Climate change requires HB flood protection”

  1. Chris Perley says:

    ‘Resilience’ From floods for Hawke’s Bay lowland Landscapes requires ‘functionally resilient’ wider landscapes. The wider landscapes ‘rule the streams’. A boom/bust hydrological dynamic creates a number of mutual negatives –

    – Lowland flood & upland drought;

    – accelerated soil erosion insidiously degrading key infiltration, detention & Water holding functions that steadily reduce The ability for landscapes to hold water as mutually-beneficial potential energy rather than just releasing it as Destructive kinetic energy.

    – Stream/river systems that are increasingly characterised by either low flows or high flows pattern extremes (though the mean may be similar) Without amelioration functions provided by the landscape. …. and the increasing loss of permanent stream functions back into farmlands.

    Building a wider resilient landscape hydrological function creates multiple mutual benefits – economic, social and a suite of environmental (biodiversity, stream morphology, water quality, soil conservation & function, landscape carbon, reduced need for energy/chemical inputs, etc). There are synergies between all these functions on which systems thinkers can expand.

    The Regional Council ought to take an integrated systems approach to all of these issues. The worst approach would be to deal at a technical level with lowland flood (through engineered works) without understanding 1. The root cause through climate change, and 2. The wider landscape functional integrity that will both contribute to climate mitigation strategies and to the *effects* of a combination of climate extremes and landscape functional decline.

    This will require the Council *not* to think in disassociated mechanical silos, and to think within Socio-ecological systems.

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