Wednesday 27 July 2016

Extreme weather and climate change in New Zealand

Huge waves and strong winds wash away 10 m (33 feet) high seawall, New Zealand

Huge waves and strong winds wash away 10 m (33 feet) high seawall, New Zealand

the Watchers,
25 July,2016

A severe weather outbreak wreaked havoc in New Zealand over the weekend of July 23, 2016, as huge waves and strong winds battered the region of Wellington. A Porirua seawall has been washed away, while the Kapiti Coast beach was entirely immersed in the waves.

A combination of stormy weather conditions and high tides caused the incidents, according to media reports. Local roads and highways have been closed throughout the weekend after being rendered unsafe for driving, due to rising sea level.
On July 24, a storm warning was in effect for the Cook Strait, as MetService anticipated northerly swells up to 3 m (9.8 feet) and southerly swells of 1 m (3.3 feet) in height. Severe north westerlies were expected in Wellington, Wairarapa, the Marlborough Sounds and the Chatham Islands. Large swells and waves were anticipated along the western coast.

This is about a mile from where we keep our horses.

Makara hit hard by wild weekend weather

Makara beach on Wellington's west coast was hit by the weekend's wild weather.

The large waves that washed away a Porirua seawall and swallowed up a Kapiti Coast beach also roughed up the Makara beach car park and public toilets.

The walkway along the coastline also suffered some erosion.

Makara beach on Wellington's west coast was hit by harsh weather in the weekend.
Cafe Makara owner Lorraine Clift said the king tide and raging winds left the car park in a mess and the public toilets unusable.

"It has never happened like that before, with the king tide and the heavy storm," she said.

The weather also managed to cause a small amount of flooding inside the cafe, Clift said.

Despite the weather, it was business as usual today. People had been driving out to the beach to inspect the damage.

"It has been quit busy this morning. The walkway there has had a fair bit of erosion on the pathway."

Richard MacLean from Wellington City Council said council staff had been out to Makara to inspect the damage.

"There were some problems with the septic tanks out there which we had to double check. We had to make sure there is no contamination."

The MetService said wind gusts peaked at 107kmh in Wellington on Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, along the Kapiti Coast, beach access is limited at Paekakariki and Paraparaumu due to a build-up of debris washed out steps and eroded bits of seawall.

The footbridge in Raumati near the beach across the Wharemaku Stream also remains temporarily closed off.

Kapiti Coast District Council group manager of infrastructure services Sean Mallon said the council responded to about a dozen calls from residents relating to the weather in a 24-hour period from midnight Saturday.

Requests for service came for things such as surface flooding, blocked sumps, broken trees branches and debris on roads and beaches.

There have been several calls about trees, including some on private properties, and a few calls relating to flooding of garages in Te Horo, due to the high tidal surges, and a sleepout in Otaihanga. A part of Rodney Ave, at Te Horo Beach, has been closed.

"We're working hard to get to call-outs and on to the clean-up efforts as soon as we can, but more in-depth assessments of the damage and erosion to the seawalls and coastal areas will take a little longer and will be on-going this week."

- Stuff

Opinion: Drought is real, but dams in Hawke's Bay and Canterbury not the answer, says Greenpeace

BY Genevieve Toop

15 July, 2016

There’s no question about it - drought is causing serious problems for our farmers and communities.
So what do we do about it? Dams and irrigation are often touted as the best way to deal with increasing dry spells, especially in regions with low rainfall. But what’s actually happening is water captured for irrigation in New Zealand isn’t just being used to help tide farms over during droughts. It’s being used to intensify farming.
So what happens if droughts keep getting worse, and the irrigated water that allowed farms to intensify is no longer there? We only need look to Opuha dam in Canterbury to see how this critical problem plays out.
The Opuha dam was built in 1998 with the promise of helping farmers through the tough droughts that had been hitting Canterbury. In the summer of 2015, it dried up completely. All irrigation takes were shut off and 250 farmers were left high and dry. The summer 2016 takes were then restricted by 50%. The dam’s made the situation worse for many farmers, because they’ve intensified off the back of it and are now reliant on that water.
Even typically pro-irrigation groups like Federated Farmers have raised these concerns. Fed Farmers South Canterbury president Ivon Hurst is quoted as saying: "Ironically, it's those with irrigation that are likely to be the worst off because of course they're stocked up to the limit and have high standing costs so when they do get caught without water, they are in real trouble."
Irrigation schemes create more intensive industrial dairy farms which causes huge amounts of pollution in our rivers, two-thirds of which are already too polluted to swim in. These schemes also suck up water from our our rivers and aquifers, water that needs to stay in those rivers to maintain their ecological health.
And as we are now sadly witnessing many of our dairy farmers under increasing financial stress, economists have begun questioning the intensification model that’s enabled by irrigation: Over the past 15 years, dairy intensification has led to $38 billion worth of debt, and in the 2014/15 season the Reserve Bank estimated that 50% of dairy farmers weren’t breaking even.
The Opuha model shows us that dams aren’t the answer to drought. Economists tell us the industrial dairying model is causing our farmers to go broke. Scientists tell us that irrigation means more agricultural intensification which causes more freshwater pollution.
Yet right now, there are several think-big irrigation schemes planned around the country, including Ruataniwha dam in Hawke’s Bay and Central Plains Water in Canterbury.
There’s a better way to deal with drought. Instead of creating water-hungry industrial dairy farms in low rainfall regions, we can use methods and systems of farming that create resilient, drought resistant farms, and don’t rely on taking huge amounts of water from our fragile river ecosystems.
These ecological methods can reduce farmer debt and dependency, and increase relative productivity and income. Better yet they avoid river pollution, meaning clean waterways we can all swim and fish in.
You can find out more about drought-resistant farming here.

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