SRRA statement re spit inundation.
The Sandspit Residents and Ratepayers Association made a submission to the draft LTP on 23rd March 2012 by way of the online form, on this topic. We also had this as part of our submission to the draft Auckland Plan. We consider council needs to formulate a strategy to overcome potential hazards caused by sea inundation at the spit.
How urgent is it that the spit receives attention?
As the photos below show, the problem is current. It is not a theoretical or future problem. Climate change scenarios will only exacerbate the existing problem.
What needs to be done and why?
The problem appears to be that relative ground level of the spit hard infrastructure (road and car park) is too low to the sea, so fundamentally the answer is to raise it. By how much, and where, are questions for consultation and specialist engineering advice.
We only envisage works on the already modified areas, so that the shape and character of the spit would not change.
If any hard surface areas were redone, it would give an opportunity to do a much more attractive and environmentally friendly landscape design, for example use non impervious hard surfaces combined with rain gardens to surface treat the Stormwater run-off, and provide a visually softer environment.
In regard to climate change, the Niwa guidance manual (NIWA 2008)i sets out a procedure for local government to follow, it includes communities like ours initiating exploratory discussions, then following due processes that include full public consultation. It states the ability to defend an asset like a road against coastal processes should be considered over a 100 year time frame, and that over this time frame sea levels could rise 0.5-0.8m.
It also states it should be confirmed by a council if an asset is to be defended or left to coastal process hazards to be destroyed. This obviously implies political accountability.
The road and carpark is a vital piece of movement and marine interface infrastructure for the people of northern Rodney, and also Kawau Island.
Where is this at, at the moment?
We had one brief exploratory meeting with council purely to see if the idea was even feasible. It was also attended by a Councillor, the Sandspit camping ground owners, a representative of the Kawau Island Residents and Ratepayers Association, the SYCMS, and various council technical staff. The Marina Society confirmed their position of offering to supply Council with all their engineering and dredge data material, as much spoil as was required, plus the money they would have spent shipping it to an alternative dump site to spend as Council saw fit in regard to such works on the spit. This is likely to be a significant figure.
It was stressed at the meeting that due process and consultation would need to happen, but at the same time the public discussion process needed to begin as the resource from the marina was only available at a certain time. It has absolutely no impact on the marina program or budget whatsoever, so the marina society quite rightly said they would not delay their timetable to suit.
It was also stressed at the meeting that it had the potential to be a cost neutral opportunity to council and ratepayers.
The council engineers stated the higher than usual tides happen in 17 year cycles and we were currently at the peak of one. However cyclic tidal heights, and tropical storm frequencies are only going to increase over time.
Our thoughts are that, if it is decided something needs to happen in 17 years’ time, those people in the future may not look back too charitably on this generation that had an opportunity to do something, at no cost, with a resource that was immediately available. Unfortunately we still have a bad habit of passing on our problems to future generations.
They (council engineers) were not negative about the concept, but admitted it was beyond their capability to address. We think council should project manage this and get some advice from an engineering consultancy that specialises in this sort of work- to put together some opinions and scenarios, including the do-nothing scenario, so we can have an informed debate based on fact.
Where to from here?
Perhaps the best process is for council to initiate updates to the Reserve Management Plan, which is 15 years old, and the Sandspit Development Plan which was a 2001 document. The Snells Beach-Sandspit Structure plan is also outdated. These are the sorts of documents and processes that should include inundation and coastal hazard mitigation, and be used to bring all the contextual information together in a transparent process. But someone at council needs to push the button. If the marina resource is missed out on the problem is still there, but alternative way of addressing will be required.
NIWA. Coastal Hazards and Climate Change. A Guidance Manual for Local Government in New Zealand. 2nd edition. Wellington: Ministry for the Environment, 2008.King
During the king tides of January 2011, Sandspit was flooded by sea water to a most concerning level.
Your SRRA is calling for comments on how our Sandspit should be protected.
Photos below taken during the King Tides of June/July 2008 and January 2011.
2008 In this image the spit has
2011 Overview of the Spit.
2011 Looking back to the entry to
the Spit at the Camping grounds.
The Wharf 2011