Forest & Bird wants $500 million government fund to protect communities at risk of flooding
Forest & Bird is calling on the government to develop a national plan to protect communities and wildlife in the face of increased flooding – and wants a $500 million flood mitigation fund to be created to achieve this.
The call comes in a report, Tukua Ngā Awa Kia Rere/Making Room for Rivers, which says allowing rivers to reclaim parts of their natural floodplains in strategic locations would protect communities from devastating floods while increasing biodiversity. and local recreational opportunities.
However, a landowner whose land could be sacrificed to the Waiho River near Franz Josef says the only sensible and cheapest solution is to keep building flood walls and stopping banks to protect the property.
A recent government report identified dozens of communities at serious risk of flooding.
* Flood protection is cut by $150million a year as councils grapple with the impact of climate change
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* Communities at risk will only survive if central government helps fund flood protection
Franz Josef was not one of them, despite a plan to buy back flood-prone farmland on the south side of the Waiho River that had been mooted for several years.
The West Coast Regional Council sees managed retirement as a longer-term solution to city risk than building more stop banks. It would be 2,500 hectares of private land with a capital value of $30 million.
The government has spent $12 million on new dams along the northern banks of the river, but has put a further $12 million on hold to consider a longer-term solution for the southern side.
The Waiho River rises at a rate of about 30 cm per year.
A 2019 flood that wiped out the State Highway 6 Waiho (Waiau) River Bridge also swept away several farms on the rich Waiho Flats that stretch about 6 miles to the mouth of the river, destroying fences, washing away silt on pastures and harming livestock.
Farmer Peter Dennehy, owner of a 300 ha dairy and beef farm, is one of five landowners on the south side.
“This has all been going on for years, not months, and we just watch our land go down the river.
“They held a carrot in front of us that they were going to buy this place back – I don’t think they know what they’re doing. They don’t have a plan,” he said.
He thought the “only sensible and cheapest option” was to build stop banks, as he understood that the river was just as likely to move north as it did south.
The council built arresting banks to the north after nearly 200 people had to be evacuated when the Waiho River overflowed in 2016, carving a new path through the Mueller Hotel.
“He wants to go in that direction but they stopped him because it would have destroyed the school and the road. They could redeem us and the river could naturally move north, and they threw all these people away for nothing,” he said.
Dennehy said pulling out of the south side would be “astronomically expensive” and would involve moving the highway and the Waiho Bridge.
“Money is one thing, but we wouldn’t be able to get equivalent land on the west coast and build a sustainable business. We’ve spent 100 years making it productive. It’s not just the cost of land, it’s lost production.
Flood Plain Reclamation
Forest & Bird freshwater advocate Tom Kay said Room for Rivers projects have been successfully implemented overseas.
“We would like to put something in front of government and councils to help them understand the concept. We will also encourage political parties to adopt these actions in their election manifestos,” he said.
“When we protect nature, we also protect our homes and our communities. It’s a win-win solution.
The proposal included consulting flood management experts to develop a national plan and creating a questionable $500 million flood mitigation fund to help councils undertake Room for Rivers projects in their communities and educate the public on the benefits of working with nature to reduce flood risk. .
Kay said more than 100 cities and towns across the country had families and communities living along rivers or in floodplains protected by flood mitigation programs.
However, they would see increased rainfall and greater flooding as the effects of climate change continue.
Allowing rivers to overflow safely onto adjacent land would allow for more riparian planting, restoration of wetlands and carbon sequestration, increased groundwater recharge, restoration of riverine habitat for fish and native birds and recreational opportunities for people, he said.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the National Adaptation Plan would enable communities to plan and prepare for inevitable climate impacts by giving them better information, better data and more support to make their own decisions. .
“Managed retirement is just one of many adaptation options for communities in high-risk areas. In some cases, retirement may be a last resort, and in all cases the costs and benefits will need to be carefully weighed,” he said.
The government’s national adaptation plan foresees that the costs of the managed pension would be shared between owners, local and central governments, insurance companies and banks.
The plan also says legislation would be needed to support managed retirement, including reform of the Resource Management Act and a new Climate Adaptation Bill, which will set the framework for managed retirement and should be completed next year.