CASE STUDY

A plan for climate change

It is widely acknowledged that climate change is one of the biggest threats not just for our generation, but for those of the future too. At Watercare, we have embarked on an enterprise-wide climate change strategy and action plan.

In 2017 Watercare, along with Auckland Council, co-commissioned a report on the projected changes to the Auckland climate over the next decades from NIWA.

The report identified that in general the climate will become hotter and drier with more intense but irregular rainfall, and more specific projections for the different regions of Auckland.

watercare trees hunua 960

"Climate change will mean more demand for water from our customers. Summers will be drier and winters wetter, and it will be even more critical to develop resilient water sources. The ground will be drier at times, reinforcing the need to use flexible materials in pipes so they are able to cope with changing ground conditions."

We are using these projections to assess the vulnerabilities of water and wastewater services to a changing climate, including the impact on critical infrastructure. Climate change will mean more demand for water from our customers. Summers will be drier and winters wetter, and it will be even more critical to develop resilient water sources. The ground will be drier at times, reinforcing the need to use flexible materials in pipes so they are able to cope with changing ground conditions. Changes in the natural environment may include increased temperatures in waterways, increasing the need for us to better understand their ecosystem dynamics. Sea-level rise needs to trigger adaptation of low-lying assets. These vulnerabilities and many more have been expressed.

We have initiated a climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy to propose a plan for the future. The adaptation strategy will determine how we align our planning framework and models to changing climate projections, while the mitigation strategy will identify what Watercare can do to limit the magnitude of climate change to a 2-degree increase in the earth’s temperature. This includes new ways of planning to be able to cope with the inherent uncertainty of climate change.

For us, mitigation means becoming a low-carbon organisation and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from our operations through: energy efficiency targets, energy neutrality at our two main wastewater treatment plants by 2025, our large-scale revegetation project in the Hunua Ranges and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We owe it to Aucklanders to ensure that the infrastructure we are planning for the future will be fit for purpose in a changing climate.

VALUE BEING CREATED: 

  • Future-proofed growth and supply assurance
  • High-performing infrastructure