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Appendix 1: Cabinet Agreed Work Programme

Issue Key questions to be addressed
Current approach

Standards of protection against flooding may not be sufficiently high in many communities.

  1. What are the current levels of protection against flooding for New Zealand communities, and for rural land?
  2. Are those current levels of protection suitable for New Zealand?
  3. To what extent do current practices deal with possible very large and damaging flood events?
  4. Are current flood protection assets being appropriately maintained by regional authorities?
Risk mitigation

Standards for river protection works are based on historical data, which in some cases is outdated and short, and may not be appropriate in a time of changing land use and climate.

  1. What is the flood risk in our regions given the likely consequences of landuse and climate change, especially in light of the short hydrologic records that are common in New Zealand?
  2. To what extent do current works and other methods mitigate that risk?
  3. What extra mitigation measures might be needed, and at what time?
  4. How will any such additional mitigation measures be funded?

Present weather, rainfall and river-level recording systems could be improved.

  1. How can present monitoring, forecasting and warning systems be improved cost effectively?

There is a need to ensure that science programmes are meeting current needs and will meet future needs.

  1. Are the science needs of flood management practitioners being met by current science programmes?
  2. How good is the communication between the science community, flood management practitioners and decision-makers?
Future best practice
Current river management practice is highly reliant on physical works, and this may not be the most appropriate approach to mitigate flood risks in the future.
  1. To what extent are present catchment management and land management practices mitigating or exacerbating flood risk (and fiscal liability for central government)?
  2. What tools do we have to mitigate flood risks, and are we using them sufficiently well?
  3. What constitutes best practice for flood risk mitigation in the future in different types of rivers and streams and in different parts of a catchment?
  4. What complementary practices are needed for other infrastructure (eg, bridges and culverts)?
  5. How can river control be better integrated with the management of urban stream and stormwater systems?
  6. How can the flood control activities of the relevant authorities involved (regional and local government, Transit NZ, Department of Conservation, Ontrack) be better integrated?
  7. How do ongoing urban and rural developments interact with flood protection, and is the increasing value of assets at risk considered in flood protection decisions?
  8. How can councils best be enabled and supported in factoring climate change into their flood risk mitigation works?
Funding and affordability
Comprehensive flood risk mitigation may not be affordable to many communities.
  1. Who benefits from flood mitigation works, and so who should pay for the benefits received from flood mitigation works?
  2. Is there a role for government in funding flood mitigation programmes in poorer communities?
Legislative framework
The legislation that mandates flood risk mitigation works (the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941) is outdated. How can the legislation be improved and updated to meet modern expectations?
There are inconsistencies between different Acts (eg, the Building Act and the RMA).
  1. To what extent are different Acts leading to different risk mitigation outcomes?
  2. How can those inconsistencies be addressed?
There are inconsistent approaches to flood plain management and control of activities on floodplains, with associated tensions between development on the one hand and regulatory control on the other.
  1. How effective is the legislation in allowing controls on development in hazard-prone areas?
  2. What can be done to improve the legislation and/or current practice?
The pre-eminence given individual rights under various Acts makes it difficult to carry out comprehensive flood protection works.
  1. How difficult is it to undertake comprehensive new programmes in the current legislative environment?
  2. Do we have mechanisms to allow for the provision of 'community goods' over private rights?
  3. To what extent is the current legislative environment an impediment to comprehensive flood risk mitigation?
Information transfer
It is difficult to convey information about hazard risks to individuals and communities.
  1. How can information about the risks from natural hazards be better communicated?
  2. Is there a role for government in doing so?
Synthesis: The role of central government, local government and communities
The role of central government in flood risk mitigation is unclear and disjointed, and could be improved.
  1. What is an appropriate balance between central government, local government and the private sector (including individuals) to reduce or avoid risk?
  2. What is an appropriate future role for central government, local government and the private sector (including individuals) in flood risk mitigation?
  3. What are the risks to central government if it does or does not take a greater role in flood risk mitigation?
  4. What are the risks to local government and communities of central government taking or not taking a greater role in flood risk mitigation?
  5. Should government be prescribing and regulating for particular levels of flood risk mitigation?