The Council has its head is in the sand over sea surges


All the locals new it was coming. Sunday dawned bright and early and I was writing the first blog of the week I could see the salt spray drifting across the airport. A quick check showed that a massive storm system was sending waves north, coupled with a high-tide, was always going to result in more chaos around the South Coast.

And come it did.

For the fifth time this year.

Residents were very lucky that we didn’t get the usual wind and storm pattern that we have with a southerly, which could have pushed the surge up into people’s properties all along the coast. It amazes me that they haven’t rioted about the lack of action, or rather, lack of result that the Council has made with coastal defences.

A lot of new seawalls have gone in, however, they are being smashed at a rate of knots already and even the most recent walls are failing in high surge conditions. Island Bay remains broken after the last major storm, walls all around Eastern Suburbs have failed, been replaced, have failed, and have been replaced. Owhiro Bay has been smashed. Lyall Bay is consistently smashed.

It is getting worse. My fortieth saw the largest storm I have ever experienced, waves in the straight of up to forty feet while the South Coast got hammered with twenty five to thirty foot monsters. It is happening more and more, there can be no doubt.

You have to wonder why we keep building the same sea walls and not thinking of alternative ways of protecting the coast, don’t you?

Well, here is part of the reason. The WCC is far more interested in reducing greenhouse emissions in an effort to save us from Climate Change, than it is actually protecting us from what is inevitably happening.

I don’t care why you think Climate Change is occurring, that can be debated all day long, and I don’t care what you think about emissions, fact is, it’s smart not to fill up the atmosphere with pollutants regardless of its impact.

However, what is absolutely true is that unless the Council starts building sea defence systems then we can kiss the South Coast goodbye.

From the Dominion Post today (abridged)

Part of the road around Wellington’s south coast remains closed as the mayor warns the coastal roads are under threat as an increasing number of storm surges pummel them.

Celia Wade-Brown made the warning on Monday, as the road from Lyall Bay to Moa Point remained closed after boulders were washed onto it on Sunday.

Wade-Brown said that, while waves washing over south coast roads had occurred before, it was becoming increasingly common as a direct impact of climate change.

While roads were not at risk of washing away in the next five to 10 years, it could happen eventually if the problem was not solved, she said.

Ummm… She hasn’t driven around the South Coast then. Part of the road in Karaka Bays, Breaker Bay, Moa Point, and Seatoun have been lost more than once. We went weeks with a single lane in some places early in the year. They aren’t going to last ten years, they’re not lasting ten months.

The council had reduced its own greenhouse gas emissions to 2001 levels while Wellington had reduced emissions by 20 percent since 2006.

While this is admirable, it won’t help this situation, nor will it for decades. We are on an escalating Climate Change path and it will get worst, before it gets better.

There were a range of solutions, such as sand dunes and sea walls, which were already being placed in some places.

But even areas such as at Owhiro and Princess bays, where new walls were installed, they could still be breached.

Owhiro Bay’s new sea wall had “waves coming right over the top” on Sunday.

Then it would seem to me that the measures that are being put in place are inadequate and more should be done to investigate would actually work. This is a common problem internationally and there are a variety of ways to solve it.

Perhaps, the Council, instead of thinking they are the experts on literally everything, could find some actual experts.

Central Government needed to reduce greenhouse emissions, but if the climate change issue was not solved it would be ratepayers that ended up carrying the cost of repairs, Wade-Brown said.

Here is the head in the sand statement bottled with a slap at Government and a dose of personal ideology. It insuates that this is someone else’s problem to solve, that someone being Government, and because they aren’t doing enough to tackle emissions, we are all going to have to pay. Naughty.

The council was also undertaking computer modelling to look at rain fall and the stormwater system so that any infrastructure upgrades would work.

The modelling would also give the council ideas where work to protect coastal roads was needed.

I can tell them that. It will take me ten seconds, a map, and a highlighter.

By the way, if you need a good laugh, read the comments on that article. It’s hilarious. And a wee bit sad.

The WCC has tagged hundreds of millions for vanity projects over the next decade and in comparison, nothing for infrastructure or sea defense. Their head is firmly buried in the ever receding sand and they need a reality check. Perhaps we could get them to live in Moa Point for a few months so they can see the water pouring through their front gardens, edging closer every time.

It’s not good enough.