Coastal Flooding Presentation to Thames Coromandel Council

I attended the “Workshop” held by TCDC last week in Thames relating to the Coastal Management Strategy.  I had the chance to speak with Rick Liefting Team Leader Regional Hazards, from Waikato Regional Council, and gained some useful insights into what was being planned by WRC in terms of coastal flooding hazards.

Rick has kindly provided me with a copy of the Presentation to TCDC which he made in August about coastal inundation hazard. The presentation covered:

  • Coastal inundation concepts
  • Event frequency (how big, how often?)
  • the Coastal Inundation Tool
  • Current and proposed updated MfE guidance and
  • WRC’s role in coastal inundation.

 Rick made a clear statement to Council that there is “Currently no regional or district-wide assessment of Coastal inundation hazard or risk”  I have said for months that identification of ALL hazards is required by the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and that coastal inundation hazards must be identified.  Some have said I was wrong and inundation was covered in the District Plan or they just ignored the advice.  Rick showed this slide — there it is in Policy 24.liefting NZCPS  This is precisely why I have been advocating for detailed modelling, mapping and risk assessments to be carried out urgently.  Surely, the single most important action for Council to take with its Coastal Strategy is this.  The law requires it be done.

Dispersed through the presentation was a series of very graphic photos showing examples of present-day coastal flooding. These photos would have been a wake-up call for some Councillors who would previously have believed that sea level rise is something that we don’t have to worry about for several decades. What the photos showed was that there are already serious issues with storm surges and rising groundwater due to sea level rise in several local communities and that only a few centimetres of sea level rise will result in major problems. Here are some of the photos taken from Rick’s presentation.

Whitianga Waterways June 2016Whitianga Buffalo Beach King Tide Feb 2 2014Tairua Paku Boat RampTairua high tideSugar Loaf Coromandel2 Jan 4 2014King Tide Thames Wharf November 2016King Tide Thames November 2016

It was good also to see the emphasis on WRC’s Coastal Inundation tool, what it does, and how to use it. Maybe in future, the Council will not ignore the tool when considering major infrastructure projects and coastal development

I’m sure another wake-up call for those who saw the presentation was the concentration on how sea-level rise will drastically increase the frequency of extreme storm tide events. Rick spent quite a lot of time explaining this.

Seven slides relating to the Ministry for the Environment’s draft Guidance for Local authorities were removed from the presentation because the guidance report has not yet been officially published. Not to worry, the slides are probably these ones which were inadvertently published several months ago, and the full report has been leaked and is available here.