Media release

ORC endorses natural hazards adaptation approach for the head of Lake Wakatipu

Thursday 3 June 2021

Councillors at an Otago Regional Council (ORC) meeting in Queenstown last week supported continuing a collaborative programme of work at the head of Lake Wakatipu within the framework of “Adaptation Pathways”.

The area at the head of Lake Wakatipu, which includes the communities of Glenorchy and Kinloch, is exposed to a complex range of hazards from its hydrological environment, surrounding slopes, and seismic events.

ORC is leading the adaptation project in collaboration with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Department of Conservation, and Kai Tahu.

Manager Natural Hazards Jean-Luc Payan said the hazards faced by the area were in flux.

“The area at the head of Lake Wakatipu is a dynamic alpine environment, and many of the natural hazard risks there are changing over time due to shifts in the landscape and climate. While there is still uncertainty about these changes, we anticipate increases in the severity of natural hazards impacts in the area, particularly flood hazards.”

The Ministry for the Environment developed the “Adaptation Pathways” approach endorsed by the Council, which is a 10-step iterative decision cycle developed as a blueprint for community-led decision making in areas affected by natural events and climate change.

“We recognise that a strategic and holistic approach is needed to address the long-term natural hazard risks at the head of Lake Wakatipu. The ‘Adaptation Pathways’ approach has been developed specifically to help plan and adapt for situations where the future is uncertain,” Dr Payan said.

“Community involvement is integral to this work, and we have had good engagement from the Glenorchy and Kinloch communities at meetings over the last two years.”


Next steps

The proposed next steps in this phase of the adaptation cycle include technical studies to better understand the hydrological effects of climate change in the area, an assessment of the feasibility of different river management options, and scoping proposed studies on the risks posed by flooding, alluvial fan events, and susceptibility to liquefaction.

This project phase will seek to identify and develop a strategy of preferred adaptation options. The next phase will consist of planning towards implementation.

The successful and enduring implementation of the adaptation strategy being developed will require the strategy to be embedded in existing and future planning documents, such as the Regional Policy Statement, the District Plan, and annual and long-term plans.