How are rising sea levels affecting our communities?
Rising sea levels are a reality that many people either don’t believe or don’t want to believe is happening. People want to protect their investments and homes, but some of them know that the sea will eventually claim their homes and livelihoods. Those people try to believe that nothing is happening but the harsh reality is that sea levels are rising and that they are predicted to rise up to a metre or more in the next one hundred years. Some areas are more vulnerable than others and some are already feeling the pressure of having the sea bearing down on them. I live in an area that will be seriously affected by rising sea levels, along with more of my family and friends. I strongly support ideas and implementations of projects that will help protect existing buildings and infrastructure, or concentrate on building a new and improved city for a future with higher sea levels.
Local perspective: South Dunedin
South Dunedin is one of the most low lying urban areas in the Dunedin area. It is also one of the most deprived areas, with a deprivation rating of 9 or 10. Much of South Dunedin is reclaimed land, and already has a high underground water table, but a sea level rise of up to one metre could either partially or entirely flood South Dunedin Permanently. This rise is projected to occur gradually over the next 100 years.This gives local governing bodies time to plan and implement solutions within the next 100 years.Dunedins geography is also unique, the city is built in the middle of an ancient volcano that has eroded down the middle over millions of years to form a peninsula and a shallow harbour.The harbour is surrounded by hills. South Dunedin is one of the only low lying areas in the city. This provides unique challenges and the possibility for interesting and innovative solutions to those problems.
When the first settlers arrived in dunedin in the early 1800s, the landscape was very different. where south Dunedin is today there was marsh and swamp. The only link to the peninsula in the early years of Dunedin was a sand tombolo. During the 1860-1864 Otago gold rush, the sudden massive influx of migrants looking to strike it rich made Dunedin into an economic hub in New Zealand for many years. One of the developments made in this time period was the reclamation of land in the swampy and marshy flat that would become South Dunedin. Much of Dunedin's topography has remained very similar from then to today.
With the growing realisation that rising sea levels are going to have a big effect on Dunedin, measures are being taken to counteract these threats. The Dunedin City Council is revising its District plan to include these new threats so that they can protect the city in the future. Some measures are already being taken, and some are being considered. There is major work being done to the St Clair sea wall after water got underneath the wall and caused a partial collapse of the walkway...