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Tuesday
Apr302019

Inundation v. Coastal Erosion

This article that appeared in today's Stuff is instructive in regard to the situation faced by our Council, and points up the contrast between inundation, and coastal erosion - the two conditions are often confused, as suggested in my previous post.

"As seas continues to rise, the cost to hold them back is growing. While New Zealand's coastal communities look to shore up their defences against crumbling coastlines, one seaside council is clear where the responsibility for private property lies.

The Kāpiti Coast District Council has set aside more than $16 million for one damaged sea wall and is currently reinforcing another temporary wall, at a cost of $400,000, while it decides on a permanent solution. The Council  is spending $400,000 to shore up a temporary sea wall. Despite the work, the message is simple: the council will not defend private property.

Kāpiti's coastal erosion issues were highlighted last month when plans for a managed retreat inland were announced by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

While the regional council plans its retreat, the Kāpiti Coast Council has set aside $16.8m for the damaged Paekākāriki seawall: a project that was expected to cost $10.9m in 2016 and now won't be completed until 2023. In the meantime, about 9000 tonnes of rocks are being stored at the council's depot to reinforce the temporary wall if needed.

Further along the district's coastline, the $400,000 project to shore up a temporary wall at Raumati Beach  is underway. Built of concrete blocks, the wall cost $200,000 in 2016. Kāpiti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan labelled the district council's work on Raumati Beach as '"the tip of the iceberg". The council is using stones and blocks to firm up a temporary sea wall, built in 2016.

While the council did not defend private properties against erosion, the wastewater reticulation running in front of the 11 beachfront houses had to be protected which meant the properties were also fortified against the waves.

Along its 42 kilometre coastal stretch, Kāpiti had about 1800 properties potentially affected by various levels of coastal erosion issues.

"How long can we mount a defence, how much will it cost and who pays? These are the challenging questions now and especially into the future."

Kāpiti Coast District Council general manager Sean Mallon said the current work would reinforce the block wall "for a good few years" while council explored longer-term options before consent expired in 2025. "This strengthening work is what we need to do right now to ensure our infrastructure is doing what it should and to protect our community."

Insurance Council New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said rising sea levels were a major issue for coastal communities throughout New Zealand and it was good to see Kāpiti working to address the issue. "There's no doubt the sea is rising and that will continue through this century and into the next.

"If you have properties frequently damaged by events, insurers respond by increasing premiums and excesses or, ultimately, not offering insurance cover at all."

Kapiti clearly has a different issue with the danger to substantial infrastructure in the form of water and waste-water facilities. Protection of yjese facilities leads to consequent protection for much private property, and incidentally, a 'hotch-potch' of coastal erosion stuctures and revetments along the beach.

What I fear is developing here is the idea that East Coast, property owners threatened by coastal erosion have a God-given right to Council protection, while the Council eschews responsibility for providing any protection to property within the Gulf threatened with king-tide inundation.

Indeed, our Mayor has categorically stated that the Council has no responsibility to provide further protection for West Coast properties (e.g. Moanataiari, Tararu and Te Puru)  threatened in this manner, while allowing all manner of protection to be planned, and executed on the East Coast.

Naturally, property owners in the former category feel strongly about the apparent discrimination implicit in the favouring of the relatively well-off East Coast property owners in this manner. It is a policy that could easily 'slip under the radar' and become established unless Thames councillors remain constantly vigilent, and  aware of what is happening. 

Paying a generalised rate to cover the cost of the extravagant East Coast waste-water schemes is one thing - paying for their erosion protection is 'adding salt to the wound.'

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Well said Bill. Yes we will have to be very vigilant. Inundation poses significant "IMMEDIATE" threats as compared to coastal erosion and the 5th January weather event also proved how close we were to a major catastrophic breach along our Thames foreshore and perhaps the mangroves were our saving grace this time around, but it was within a hairs breath of majorly breaching further I was told. Thames Foreshore is the priority and the coastal strategy approach to deal with climate change and Coastal Hazards be reported to us soon .
Regards Strat

May 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterStrat Peters

Well said Bill. Yes we will have to be very vigilant. Inundation poses significant "IMMEDIATE" threats as compared to coastal erosion and the 5th January weather event also proved how close we were to a major catastrophic breach along our Thames foreshore and perhaps the mangroves were our saving grace this time around, but it was within a hairs breath of majorly breaching further I was told. Thames Foreshore is the priority and the coastal strategy approach to deal with climate change and Coastal Hazards will be reported to us soon .
Regards Strat

May 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterStrat Peters

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