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TDC to explain local implications of climate change

January 28th, 2014
[by David Armstrong]

The ways Tasman District Council is managing the effects of climate change and the effects on Motueka will be explained at a special public meeting to be held in two weeks.

The meeting, to be held in the Memorial Hall supper room on Thursday, February 13th at 7.00pm, will be hosted by the Motueka Community Board, which through David Ogilvie asked for the topic to be aired.

The informal question-and-answer discussion will be led by TDC's Environmental Information Manager Rob Smith.

How the low-lying town of Motueka, close to both the sea and the Motueka River, could be affected this century by climate change has become a matter of some concern for many residents. The two main talking points are expected sea level rise and more extreme weather (droughts, gales and floods).

Rob Smith told Motueka Online that the meeting will not go into the causes of climate change and how those causes may be addressed, and especially will not debate whether or not climate is changing and why.

As far as TDC is concerned, these matters are being investigated by international scientists through the IPCC, and Council is working from their reports to shape its policy so as to mitigate or manage the likely resulting risks.

Specifically, the meeting will hear and discuss two key questions: "How is the Council managing the effects of climate change in Motueka?", and "How have the effects influenced the Council's policies and plans?".

Such policies clearly include such matters as how high above sea level new buildings must be based, land use planning, stormwater drainage and coastal hazards.


Comment by Joanna Santa Barbara, Atamai Village, Motueka:
[Sent 31 January 2014]

Firstly I'd like to warmly congratulate David Ogilvie and the TDC in general for holding a meeting to discuss local consequences of climate change and what TDC can do to adapt to these. High time for such an intelligent response!

Secondly it is perfectly reasonable to restrict the content of this meeting to discussion of consequences of climate change and adaptation to these consequences. Using a medical analogy, it's reasonable to have a meeting dealing only with the best treatment of AIDS, diabetes or obesity.'s not reasonable to leave the matter there. We'd be deeply unhappy with our public health service if it didn't do all it could to reduce the known causes of AIDS, diabetes and obesity. I'll be pretty unhappy with my local government if doesn't take seriously its potential to reduce the known causes of climate change.

Local Government New Zealand, the federation of local councils, agrees. Its statement on climate change, which TDC has endorsed, deals with adaptation (sea-level rise, stop-banks and so on) and addresses mitigation, that is, reducing the causes - largely reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GGE). It says that local governments should produce their own policies to reduce GGE. Local governments should support individuals, communities and businesses in their attempts to do this. And local governments should advocate with Central Government for 'tools to assist with low carbon options for goods and services.' (See LGNZ website).

LGNZ may be too polite to say that Central Government is pretending climate change isn't happening, and is doing very little effectively to mitigate it.

As an example of such local action, recently Community Board member Paul Hawkes assisted the Motueka climate change group, The Renewables, in its effort to experiment with the possibility of producing biochar from orchard waste. Biochar is a soil amendment which sequesters carbon for decades and therefore reduces nett GGE.

There are many ways local government could act to mitigate climate change. A guess at the major sectors for GGE in this region suggests the following: agriculture, transport, industry (eg concrete), landfills. These are all arenas in which local governments can act in ways that can reduce GGEs substantially. For example a good start has been made with cycleways and carpooling in the transport sector. Much more could be done.

The meeting on Feb 13th is to discuss adaptation to climate change at the local level - excellent!

Now let Council call another meeting to generate and share ideas on how local government can reduce nett GGEs in this area, addressing the causes of climate change and acting preventively. Much depends on this.

Comment by Jim Butler:
[Posted 16 February 2014]

Discussions at Thursday's (13th) meeting in the Memorial Hall on how TDC could manage the effects of climate change on Motueka was certainly very thought provoking. What the various maps and charts shown at the meeting, was in the short term, Motueka's sewage treatment plant is very vulnerable to flooding, both from the river and super high tides.

Planning the upgrade of the Motueka sewage plant is already underway because it has become overloaded during the wet winter when stormwater leaks into Motueka sewage system. Mostly, it is suspected, through leaking joints in the porcelain sewage piping on many older properties in Motueka connected into the sewage system.

The result of this overloading is that semi-treated sewage, still containing harmful bugs, flows into the Motueka River during the winter months in increasing amounts. A health issue. What will have to be done to solve this health issue and prevent the flooding of this sewage plant will likely be very costly. A cost that will largely be borne by ratepayers of Motueka properties connected to the sewage system.

It appears that TDC has already decided that Motueka ratepayers cannot afford to meet both the cost of upgrading of the Motueka River Stopbanks and upgrading of the Motueka Sewage Treatment Plant, and that the health issue works should have priority.

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