Climate change, rising sea levels and the possibility of more extreme weather events are considered a threat to low-lying Dunedin suburbs like St Kilda and South Dunedin. Photo by Dan Hutchinson
The effects of climate change and sea level rise are about to
have an impact on Dunedin with a policy proposed for
inclusion in the Dunedin City Council's latest district plan.
Dan Hutchinson looks at the limit on new development in
southern suburbs and the risks to some of those low-lying
A limit on development in South Dunedin is proposed in the
Dunedin City Council's second-generation district plan while
it looks for a solution to rising sea levels.
Large swathes of South Dunedin and surrounding suburbs are
built on reclaimed swamp and some areas are only 30cm above
the water table.
One solution being considered is a series of wells, drains
and pumps to artificially lower the water table throughout
Council sustainability adviser Maria Ioannou said the halt
was a ''holding pattern response'' while they worked out what
needed to be done.
She said a report on engineering solutions to the problem was
being finalised by staff but one option was to use a network
of large pumps and drains.
Staff were also working out a dollar value of the areas
affected, including critical city assets like the Tahuna
Wastewater Treatment Plant. Ms Ioannou said they did not want
to ''panic'' people in the densely populated residential area
and they were talking in time frames of 50 to 100 years.
''We don't want to have more people put in an area that we,
as yet, don't know what we are going to do with around things
like climate-change impacts.''
She said many people thought sea-level rise was about water
lapping over the top of something but, in the case of South
Dunedin, it was a case of the water table rising with sea
''Lots of people will already be quite familiar with that. A
lot of people know their land is pretty saturated ... when
there is a [very] high tide bits of Portsmouth Drive get
Waitati residents have also put their ideas forward in a
separate study commissioned by the council called ''Beginning
Climate Change Adaptation and Planning in Waitati''.
Residents there have vivid memories of floods in 2006 that
caused widespread damage and cut off the town from emergency
services. Residents of one house had to be evacuated by
Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust manager Scott Willis
said while that event could not be blamed on sea-level rises,
it did illustrate what happened when flooded rivers and tides
Some of the more adventurous ideas put forward by Waitati
residents included constructing a sea wall, a ''managed
retreat'' of houses from low-lying flat areas and no more
subdivisions in low areas.
Other suggestions revolved around better transport links,
good communication between residents and having enough
locally grown food so the community could feed itself for a