Watering down the risks in Waitaki


In colonial times drowning was so rife it was described as the 'NZ Death'… As New Zealand shifted from rugged colonial to settled society, issues around our waterways have resurfaced, now being about where we build. 

Waitaki District Council Planning Manager Hamish Barrell said "The rainfall event over New Year that brought misery to the holiday season has again reminded us of how important it is that we plan ahead, thereby reducing risk to the community and emergency services."

Since the shock of Christchurch earthquakes the risk of natural hazards has been better recognised, including by insurers.

Compared to many other parts of New Zealand, the Waitaki District is a relatively safe place and in a COVID ravaged world we have the ability to market ourselves distinctively on this.

But keeping it that way requires some thought up-front.  

In terms of looking at natural hazard risk, our current District Plan focuses almost entirely on flooding and that information needs to be revisited and updated.

The District Plan Review will address the potential consequences of climatic change and other locally-relevant environmental considerations.  

There will be a new chapter on stormwater and natural hazards, including revised areas of flooding risk from the regional councils and provisions to encourage hydraulic neutrality ­­– that is, we don't want downstream properties to be worse off from any new development upstream.   

In addition, we wish to see other natural hazards recognised such as land instability, coastal erosion, fault lines and wild fires. ​

While the role of regional councils is going to be key, given their function, our local knowledge can be invaluable in informing this process. Photos, memories, experiences and local records of past events can help build a picture of the environmental challenges certain areas face. The Waitaki District Council Planning Team is keen to hear what the community has to say: districtplan@waitaki.govt.nz

Page reviewed: 12 Jan 2021 10:30am