Greater Wellington welcomes water resilience support in light of potential climate threats to Wairarapa
A second round of financial support for the development of a sustainable water supply for Wairarapa, seven million dollars in loan funding for regional water storage, has been strongly endorsed by Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Given a recent re-evaluation of the impact of climate change in Wairarapa, which points to a future of extreme hot dry conditions, we need to invest in a long term, resilient water supply for the region, says Greater Wellington Regional Council Deputy Chair Adrienne Staples.
Latest figures on extreme climate scenarios from NIWA, commissioned by Greater Wellington, project very long duration, unprecedented heat waves (more than 10 or 15 consecutive hot days), will start to occur in the future. In Masterton, 15 day heatwaves could occur every year if we move into a high emissions future climate.
At the same time, wet spells (three or more consecutive days of rain) are projected to decrease over the Tararua ranges and Wairarapa, replaced by long dry spells (10 or more consecutive days without rain) which are expected to increase by up to 50% in the Wairarapa (an additional 20 days per year).
This loan from the PGF will take the project to the next level and help bring the region closer to water security. It will support the regional economy, providing jobs and in particular providing security of supply for agriculture and horticulture rather than the conversion to dairy farming that had occurred in the past.
But our rapid transition to forestry for carbon credits in what will be hot and dry conditions also raises the threat of more, and more intense, forest fires. In that context the development of additional water resources will be invaluable for public, environmental and economic security, says Cr Staples.
The project has the potential to provide up to 18 million cubic meters of stored water in the hills above Masterton within the next six years which can be used by the region during critical dry periods. It is a collaboration between Water Wairarapa Ltd representing private water users, the three Wairarapa councils and Greater Wellington, with government support.
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