Would releasing our ‘zombie’ rivers prevent future flooding across Aotearoa New Zealand?
Professor James Brasington, Director of the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management, a joint partnership between the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, has joined colleagues from Auckland University, NIWA and Massey for an article on The Conversation NZ, discussing this very topic.
Changing flows of the braided Waimakariri river between 1942 and 2020. Author provided
A flood on the Rangitata River during the same year severed road, rail and power connections along the east coast of the South Island and cut a 25km path to the sea through prime dairy country.
We shouldn’t be surprised when our rivers break their banks — that’s just a river being a river. Current management practices in Aotearoa treat rivers as static, in the hope of making them more predictable.
But this can lead to disasters.