After the recent publication of Wellington City Council’s Sea Level Rise Options Analysis report, The Dominion Post’s Olivia Wannan looks at how Wellington might prepare for a more watery future.
An excerpt (read in full here):
…Several levels of ocean-level rise were modelled in the report, and heights of 0.6m and 1.5m were used as examples to illustrate the variability of the hazard the capital faces.
Although seas of 1m higher were likely in a century’s time, expert projections show the waters will continue to rise after that.
If left unchecked, a rise of 1.5m would displace about 2000 residents in large parts of the CBD, Kilbirnie, Oriental Bay, Hataitai, Pipitea and Makara Beach, the report by consultants Tonkin and Taylor concluded. Homes, buildings and underground infrastructure totalling $6.5 billion could be damaged.
The capital would also lose significant landmarks, from old pa sites to the historic Government Buildings, now home to the Victoria University law school.
Should the seas reach just 0.6m above today’s levels, the effect on the city would be far less severe, the modelling concluded.
Council climate change portfolio leader David Lee said the council and community had tough decisions to make now.
“Protection is a first, almost knee-jerk, reaction . . . but we will reach a point where it’s not tenable to actually protect, in terms of cost and practicality.”
Managed retreat was another suggestion, in which the council could rezone threatened areas to curb development. Residents would move out over the years.