Infrastructure refers to the long-lasting facilities that support our day-to-day living, such as buildings, roads, and network services. As a Regional Council, the main area of infrastructure we are directly responsible for is flood protection assets - things such as stop banks and pump stations. These structures are an important part of how we manage the risk of flooding across the region.
Because of this, our Infrastructure Strategy is focused on the issues we face in operating flood protection and control assets.
Regional Council owns, operates, and maintains approximately $320 million worth of flood protection and control assets as part of our Rivers and Drainage Operations activity. Our Infrastructure Strategy sets out the capital and operating spend required to meet currently delivered levels of service for those flood control assets.
Flood protection and control faces significant issues over the next 30 years. These include sea level rise, more intense and frequent storms, subsiding ground levels, potentially declining populations in the east (where the greatest risk of flooding is), and stop banks that are often geotechnically unstable during high and prolonged river levels.
We will continue to conduct rolling capacity reviews of our various schemes and we are also implementing a River Scheme Sustainability Project. This project addresses long-term flood mitigation issues, using an integrated catchment-wide approach to create a modern, 100-year framework for each river scheme.
This approach includes investigating alternative engineering options, including moving away from simply raising our existing stopbanks to keep pace with higher water levels associated with climate change.
In recent years, there has been significant investment in flood protection and control assets, which has front-loaded the capital works programme, meaning less investment is needed in the latter part of the Long Term Plan. It is possible that when capacity reviews and geotechnical investigations are completed for the various schemes, that there will be identified shortfalls requiring additional investment.
The timing of the capacity reviews is as follows:
- Upper Kaituna Catchment Control Scheme – 2021/22 (year 1)
- Lower Kaituna Catchment Control Scheme – 2023/24 (year 3)
- Whakatāne-Tauranga Rivers Scheme – 2025/2026 (year 5)
- Rangitāiki-Tarawera Rivers Scheme – 2027/28 (year 7)
- Waioeka-Otara Rivers Scheme – 2028/2029 (year 8)
It is also likely that there will be changes when the River Scheme Sustainability Project is completed. The Rangtāiki Catchment has already had options developed and considered by the community, but the other four are yet to be fully considered. The first, Whakatāne-Tauranga, will be consulted on in year one of the Long Term Plan.
Between 2021 and 2051, we expect to spend $83.39 million on new or replacement structures in our river schemes (capital expenditure) and $453.98 million on maintenance, repairs, analysis and modelling (operational expenditure).