An analysis of the impact of sea level rise on Lake Ellesmere - Te Waihora and the L2 drainage network, New Zealand
Thesis DisciplineCivil Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering
The potential impact of sea level rise on Lake Ellesmere - Te Wiahora and the subsequent effect on the efficiency and performance of the L2 Drainage network was investigated in relation to the operation of the L2 Drainage scheme. Lake Ellesmere is currently manually opened for drainage to the sea when the lake levels reach 1.05 m above mean sea level (asl) in summer and 1.13 m asl in winter. With a rise in sea level, the lake opening levels for both summer and winter would have to increase in order to maintain the current hydraulic gradient. Higher lake levels would impact drainage schemes such as the L2 drainage network. An integral research approach was used to study this potential impact, including fieldwork, analysis of data, hydrologic and hydraulic modelling. Both the hydrologic and hydraulic response of the L2 catchment and river were reproduced with reasonable accuracy by the use of computational models. Simulations of 2, 10 and 20 year annual recurrence intervals (ARI) rainstorm events coupled with higher lake levels show increase flooding along the length of the river. An increase in the lake opening levels, coupled with south-easterly wind was shown to have increased the degree of flooding on adjacent farmlands, but only a 3.50 per cent increase of water level (for all conditions simulated) 3.5 km upstream of the L2 River. The study clearly shows that weed growth within the L2 River plays an important part in controlling the water level within the channel. Results show it was responsible for an observed water level rise of 0.30 m from the winter to summer season. The combined use of hydraulic and hydrological models provides an effective tool to study future impacts on the drainage efficiency and performance of the L2 drainage scheme and other similar systems. The potential for both models to be used as a predictive tool for improving the operation of the L2 scheme and Lake Ellesmere was only limited by the difficulty in estimating model parameters especially for the hydrologic model.