Thames Coromandel Coastal Hazard Budget Confirmed.

A resolution to spend $2.6 million on coastal management and hazards was passed unanimously and with no discussion by the Thames-Coromandel District Council today. Of this figure, approximately $1.6 million will be spent specifically on coastal hazard identification, mapping, risk assessment, and the development of shoreline and community plans. These figures may well turn out to be insufficient, but at least it’s a great start. (Note the figures are for investigative work and planning, and are not for any capital works)

Some further encouraging information emerged from the meeting today –

  • the Coastal Management Strategy which will be published along with the Long Term Plan in June will include work on “community-based resilience and coastal hazard response planning” for Thames, the Thames Coast and Wyuna Bay.
  • Council has requested a discussion with the architects of the Hawke’s Bay coastal hazards community engagement program.
  • Council is also working with the Waikato Regional Council on coastal hazard issues including future mapping requirements.

More details of also emerged on the approved budget.

  • Estimates in the budget will be $659,120 in 2018/19, $1,088,500 in 2019/20 and $845,000 in 2024/21.
  • This coastal management and hazard budget will be met from loan funding over 10 years which will spread the cost over 10 years rather than 3 years.
  • For each ratepayer the estimated cost is $3.64, $6.01 $4.66 for 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 respectively across each year of the 10-year life of the loan.

FlaxMill Bay erosion

It also emerged from the meeting that attempts to use sand push-ups and other soft engineering methods at FlaxMill Bay have failed. It seems councils roading infrastructure beside the beach is now at risk from serious erosion.

flaxmill road

So the Council is now willing to revert to hard engineering structures, and with very little discussion approved $400,000 for this work.

This is just one tiny section of the coast.  It provides a worrying example of the massive costs we face on the Coromandel Peninsula from both erosion and coastal flooding as seas rise and extreme storm surges become much more frequent.

It also calls into question the hundreds of thousands of dollars which has already been budgeted for “soft” measures elsewhere on the east coast. The Flax Mill Bay experience must be a warning to Council that the soft measures are only temporary at best and in the future proper cost-benefit analysis needs to be carried out on other options including managed retreat. It is unclear for example what investigation/costings if any was carried out into relocating the road at Flax Mill Bay further inland and allowing natural coastal processes to occur?