Community Scoop » Stormwater Conference Tackles Climate Issues

Press Release – New Zealand Water

The challenges of climate change, increased flooding and infrastructure affordability will be in the spotlight at Water New Zealand’s two-day stormwater conference which kicks off this morning in tautahi Christchurch (18 -May 19). Water New …

Challenges related to climate change, increased flooding and infrastructure affordability will be in the spotlight at a two-day Water New Zealand stormwater conference which kicks off this morning in Ōtautahi Christchurch (18 -May 19).

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe said there was a need to have well-informed conversations with communities about potential flood risks and the costs of reducing those risks.

She says it’s critical that councils and utilities understand the current state of their stormwater systems because knowledge gaps will limit communities’ ability to make informed decisions.

“Much of the population of Aotearoa in New Zealand is located near the coast or in floodplains and is therefore directly exposed to the risks associated with climate change.

“If systems are not designed with climate change in mind, there will be more outages and lower service levels in the coming decades.

“While adapting stormwater systems to climate change is challenging and complex, there is an opportunity to rethink resilience as systems are replaced.”

However, she says, investments in our stormwater systems have too often not been given the priority needed to provide this longer-term protection.

Water New Zealand’s benchmarking tool, the National Performance Review, shows that in 2020 participants invested less than a third in stormwater systems than in drinking water systems or of waste water.

“Utilities that spend less than depreciation to renew stormwater assets are very likely to underinvest in maintenance.”

This year’s conference brings together industry leaders from across the country and people working in all sectors.

Keynote speakers include Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Professor Te Maire Tau, Chairman, Te Kura Taka Pini, Ngāi Tahu Freshwater Management, Ngāi Tahu.

Tower Insurance Managing Director, Blair Turnbull, will present flood risk insurance tools and the cost of weather events and floods to communities.

Taumata Arowai General Manager Bill Bayfield will discuss the impact of the new regulatory environment on stormwater utilities.

The stormwater conference precedes the Water New Zealand conference and exhibition to be held next week in Kirikiriroa Hamilton (25-26 May).

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Teresa H. Sadler