Big changes to prepare for

Before the October local body elections, Waitaki District Council chief executive Alex Parmley has highlighted seven issues, challenges and opportunities the district has ahead of it, in a pre-election report. This week, he shares his thoughts with the Oamaru Mail on climate change and the environment.

Our climate is changing globally and is expected to change further over the coming decades.

For Waitaki, this could mean a combination of warmer temperatures, less snow, more windy days with local wind extremes, and an increase in storm intensity and sea-level rise.

This will result in cascading effects including an increase in slips and erosion, water scarcity, flooding, forest fires, changing lake levels, changing groundwater levels and challenges for biosecurity and agricultural viability.

This will impact our communities and the council, in particular our current infrastructure, as well as the need for new or adapted infrastructure to deal with the change and its impacts.

This may also present opportunities for new and different businesses, as well as changes to the services provided that are more sustainable and support stronger communities.

What can the council do about it?

Meeting these challenges will require bold and committed action by individuals, communities, businesses, mana whenua and government, with the council needing to take the lead in some areas.

Climate change considerations are becoming a core part of the council’s planning.

This begins in the strategy and planning period with the impacts of climate change considered, including in our infrastructure strategy, asset management plans, financial strategy and our district plan.

The council is progressing on several projects that are in response to climate change impacts.

This includes the removal of waste from erosion-prone (closed) landfills that pose an environmental risk; coastal protection work; coastal roading resilience; and erosion monitoring.

With central government’s recent emission reduction plan, waste minimisation plan, the Natural and Built Environments Act and the pending release of the Climate Adaptation Act, there is a clear direction and need for us all to make change for our future.

The Waitaki District Council is also a signatory to the Te Roopu Taiao Otago Governance Charter, which formalises the relationship between the Papatipu Runanga and the local authorities of the Otago region.

The committee primarily deals with higher-level decision-making, concerning environmental resource management within local government.

Want to know more?

Our pre-election report (available on the council’s website) informs voters and candidates of the key issues, opportunities and challenges facing Waitaki, ahead of this year’s local government elections.