Research Project

Stormwater, wastewater and climate change

Impacts on our economy, environment, culture and society

We don’t yet know how climate change will impact our critical stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. We also don’t know the extent to which climate change-induced damage to this infrastructure might directly, or indirectly, impact our economy, environment, culture and society.

This project, now complete, explored these potential impacts to develop a detailed theory of change. Only once we have determined the impacts, and the performance required of our storm and wastewater network in a changed climate, can we design an efficient and effective solutions pathway.

This project involved a comprehensive review of New Zealand and international literature, including local and regional case studies, as well as a detailed process to gather end user needs and requirements, via a panel of a key experts, including iwi representatives. 

Although the project was not focussed on adaptation strategies, the research does show which types of economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts are likely to be the most serious, and where they might emerge. We highlight likely hot spots over the short-, medium- and long-term, providing useful guidance for key local government and water sector decision-makers.

The research team combined excellence in engineering, economics and physical science – and comprises experts from Tonkin + Taylor, NIWA and Infometrics. The project emerged from our October 2017 Climate Change and Stormwater and Wastewater Systems Dialogue and report.

This project in the media: