A major engineering project designed to protect South Dunedin
from rising sea levels will not solve the problems many
residents already face.
The council has commissioned consultancy firm Beca to study
what options are available to protect the city's most densely
populated area from a sea level rise of 0.8m-1.6m over the
next 76 years.
Corporate policy team leader Maria Ioannou said they were
looking at the area of South Dunedin and the harbour edge
through to Forsyth Barr Stadium.
''The science is pretty clear now. There is sea level rise
... even suggesting there is much debate about the science
now is kind of false.''
She said Beca had come up with one possible solution that
would be presented to the council's planning and regulatory
committee on June 3.
''It is not just water coming over ... it is ground water
levels coming up, which doesn't really offer up easy
Foley Plumbers director Chris Sutherland said it had been
common knowledge that the area was tidal. Some streets were
worse than others, depending on their elevation.
Plumbers had to be wary of the tide while installing drainage
in the South Dunedin area and even inland they could dig a
ditch and find it filling with water, Mr Sutherland said.
One of the options engineers were looking at to prevent the
problem getting worse in the future was a series of pumps and
drains to keep the water table artificially low.
Ms Ioannou said they were not yet considering a ''managed
retreat'' of the area, as some other cities around the world
She accepted there were already problems across the low-lying
areas of South Dunedin but Beca had been asked to come up
with a solution that would ''maintain the status quo''.
''It would be no surprise to most people who live in South
Dunedin that it is a damp, low-lying part of town. Most
people's gardens, you go down about 30cm and you hit water.''
She said other work planned for the area - fixing leaky
stormwater pipes - might actually make the problem worse.
''Some of our pipes are very old, so they are quite porous
... so they are acting in some ways as a sort of drainage
She said that was not ideal when it came to treating the
wastewater but it was ''kind of good from a soggy ground
perspective'' because it might be keeping it drier.