If a big earthquake hits Wellington, the city could be cut
off for four months, power and gas not fully restored for
three months and without sewerage for several months, a new
The Wellington Lifelines Group, made up of utility operators
and civil defence authorities from local and central
government, released a report today examining the restoration
of key infrastructure after a major rupture of the Wellington
The report comes after six months research by the members,
the group's chairwoman Fran Wilde said.
"This report has taken a worst-case scenario - a Wellington
Fault rupture measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale," Ms Wilde
"It is important to stress that the chances of a quake of
this magnitude in the near future are small. A major rupture
is predicted to occur approximately every 840 years, and
since the last one was 300 years ago, hopefully we have some
time to build our resilience."
If a quake measuring 7.5 in magnitude did strike the capital,
ground alongside the fault could shift sideways by 5m and
lift one side by 1m.
Ms Wilde said strengthening infrastructure was a costly job
that could take many years to complete.
But residents should put the danger risk into perspective, as
the report sketched a scenario that had only a one-in-10
chance of happening over the next 100 years, she said.
"Nonetheless, people should not be complacent."
Living on a faultline meant no amount of strengthening work
could remove all risk, she said.
Jenny Rowan, chairwoman of the Wellington Region Civil
Defence Emergency Management joint committee, said residents
needed to understand the report's implications for them and
"People and organisations need to be aware of the
catastrophic disruption of a major earthquake and ensure that
their planning takes it into account. A few bottles of water
scattered round the house are no longer enough."
The region's electricity provider, Wellington Electricity
(WE), warned residents needed to be prepared to help with the
cost of seismic strengthening.
WE's chief executive Greg Skelton said the company would seek
consumer feedback next year on what level of strengthening of
the local electricity network they would be willing to
"The question is whether people want to pay more now to
ensure the power comes back on more quickly after a big
The aftermath of a 7.5-magnitude quake include:
* Wellington would be cut off for four months or more by
damage to the main routes and rail lines;
* most of the region would be without gas for nearly three
months and without power and water for at least three weeks;
* telecommunications services would be out for 10 days;
* restoring sewerage would take several months
* food, fuel and materials to a cut-off Hutt Valley might
have to be barged to Seaview Marina or Petone beach.