Planning for climate change

SH1 south of Waitati, with the fibre optic cable exposed due to flooding.

Many coastal settlements outside of the main urban areas have become permanent residential areas, no longer simply collections of idiosyncratic wee baches at the water’s edge only inhabited in summer. Over time infrastructure like roads, electricity and sewerage has further developed to service them. And much of the settlement of Waitati, for example, is situated on an alluvial flood plain, built up over many years from flood deposits. SH1 runs alongside the river cutting through the flood plain, and in the recent July floods the river not only flooded part of the settlement, but also gouged out part of the road, revealing a previously buried fibre optic cable. As more extreme events become more frequent, it is not only our homes that are increasingly at risk. It is also critical infrastructure like roads, communication, and clean water that can be cut. As we adapt, we need to think carefully about back-up systems, alternative routes, transport options, and emergency supplies for acute events like flooding.