Multi-Hazard Flooding Interactions in the Ōpāwaho Heathcote Catchment,Christchurch, New Zealand (2016)
This report provides an initial overview and gap analysis of the multi-hazards interactions that might affect fluvial and pluvial flooding (FPF) hazard in the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment. As per the terms of reference, this report focuses on a one-way analysis of the potential effects of multi-hazards on FPF hazard, as opposed to a more complex multi-way analysis of interactions between all hazards. We examined the relationship between FPF hazard and hazards associated with the phenomena of tsunamis; coastal erosion; coastal inundation; groundwater; earthquakes; and mass movements. Tsunamis: Modelling research indicates the worst-case tsunami scenarios potentially affecting the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment are far field. Under low probability, high impact tsunami scenarios waves could travel into Pegasus Bay and the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai, reaching the mouth and lower reaches of the Heathcote catchment and river, potentially inundating and eroding shorelines in sub-catchments 1 to 5, and temporarily blocking fluvial drainage more extensively. Any flooding infrastructure or management actions implemented in the area of tsunami inundation would ideally be resilient to tsunami-induced inundation and erosion. Model results currently available are a first estimate of potential tsunami inundation under contemporary sea and land level conditions. In terms of future large tsunami events, these models likely underestimate effects in riverside sub-catchments, as well as effects under future sea level, shoreline and other conditions. Also of significance when considering different FPF management structures, it is important to be mindful that certain types of flood structures can ‘trap’ inundating water coming from ocean directions, leading to longer flood durations and salinization issues. Coastal erosion: Model predictions indicate that sub-catchments 1 to 3 could potentially be affected by coastal erosion by the timescale of 2065, with sub-catchments 1-6 predicted to be potentially affected by coastal erosion by the time scale of 2115. In addition, the predicted open coast effects of this hazard should not be ignored since any significant changes in the New Brighton Spit open coast would affect erosion rates and exposure of the landward estuary margins, including the shorelines of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment. Any FPF flooding infrastructure or management activities planned for the potentially affected sub-catchments needs to recognise the possibility of coastal erosion, and to have a planned response to the predicted potential shoreline translation. Coastal inundation: Model predictions indicate coastal inundation hazards could potentially affect sub-catchments 1 to 8 by 2065, with a greater area and depth of inundation possible for these same sub-catchments by 2115. Low-lying areas of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment and river channel that discharge into the estuary are highly vulnerable to coastal inundation since elevated ocean and estuary water levels can block the drainage of inland systems, compounding FPF hazards. Coastal inundation can overwhelm stormwater and other drainage network components, and render river dredging options ineffective at best, flood enhancing at worst. A distinction can be made between coastal inundation and coastal erosion in terms of the potential impacts on affected land and assets, including flood infrastructure, and the implications for acceptance, adaptation, mitigation, and/or modification options. That is, responding to inundation could include structural and/or building elevation solutions, since unlike erosion, inundation does not necessarily mean the loss of land. Groundwater: Groundwater levels are of significant but variable concern when examining flooding hazards and management options in the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment due to variability in soils, topographies, elevations and proximities to riverine and estuarine surface waterbodies. Much of the Canterbury Plains part of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment has a water table that is at a median depth of <1m from the surface (with actual depth below surface varying seasonally, inter-annually and during extreme meteorological events), though the water table depth rapidly shifts to >6m below the surface in the upper Plains part of the catchment (sub-catchments 13 to 15). Parts of Waltham/Linwood (sub-catchments 5 & 6) and Spreydon (sub-catchment 10) have extensive areas with a particularly high water table, as do sub-catchments 18, 19 and 20 south of the river. In all of the sub-catchments where groundwater depth below surface is shallow, it is necessary to be mindful of cascading effects on liquefaction hazard during earthquake events, including earthquake-induced drainage network and stormwater infrastructure damage. In turn, subsidence induced by liquefaction and other earthquake processes during the CES directly affected groundwater depth below surface across large parts of the central Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment. The estuary margin of the catchment also faces increasing future challenges with sea level rise, which has the potential to elevate groundwater levels in these areas, compounding existing liquefaction and other earthquake associated multi-hazards. Any increases in subsurface runoff due to drainage system, development or climate changes are also of concern for the loess covered hill slopes due to the potential to enhance mass movement hazards. Earthquakes: Earthquake associated vertical ground displacement and liquefaction have historically affected, or are in future predicted to affect, all Ōpāwaho Heathcote sub-catchments. During the CES, these phenomena induced a significant cascades of changes in the city’s drainage systems, including: extensive vertical displacement and liquefaction induced damage to stormwater ‘greyware’, reducing functionality of the stormwater system; damage to the wastewater system which temporarily lowered groundwater levels and increased stormwater drainage via the wastewater network on the one hand, creating a pollution multi-hazard for FPF on the other hand; liquefaction and vertical displacement induced river channel changes affected drainage capacities; subsidence induced losses in soakage and infiltration capacities; changes occurred in topographic drainage conductivity; estuary subsidence (mainly around the Ōtākaro Avon rivermouth) increased both FPF and coastal inundation hazards; estuary bed uplift (severe around the Ōpāwaho Heathcote margins), reduced tidal prisms and increased bed friction, producing an overall reduction the waterbody’s capacity to efficiently flush catchment floodwaters to sea; and changes in estuarine and riverine ecosystems. All such possible effects need to be considered when evaluating present and future capacities of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment FPF management systems. These phenomena are particularly of concern in the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment since stormwater networks must deal with constraints imposed by stream and river channels (past and present), estuarine shorelines and complex hill topography. Mass movements: Mass movements are primarily a risk in the Port Hills areas of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment (sub-catchments 1, 2, 7, 9, 11, 16, 21), though there are one or two small but susceptible areas on the banks of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River. Mass movements in the form of rockfalls and debris flows occurred on the Port Hills during the CES, resulting in building damage, fatalities and evacuations. Evidence has also been found of earthquake-triggered tunnel gully collapsesin all Port Hill Valleys. Follow-on effects of these mass movements are likely to occur in major future FPF and other hazard events. Of note, elevated groundwater levels, coastal inundation, earthquakes (including liquefaction and other effects), and mass movement exhibit the most extensive levels of multi-hazard interaction with FPF hazard. Further, all of the analysed multi-hazard interactions except earthquakes were found to consistently produce increases in the FPF hazard. The implications of these analyses are that multihazard interactions generally enhance the FPF hazard in the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment. Hence, management plans which exclude adjustments for multi-hazard interactions are likely to underestimate the FPF hazard in numerous different ways. In conclusion, although only a one-way analysis of the potential effects of selected multi-hazards on FPF hazard, this review highlights that the Ōpāwaho Heathcote catchment is an inherently multi- hazard prone environment. The implications of the interactions and process linkages revealed in this report are that several significant multi-hazard influences and process interactions must be taken into account in order to design a resilient FPF hazard management strategy.
CitationHart DE, Hawke KA (2016). Multi-Hazard Flooding Interactions in the Ōpāwaho Heathcote Catchment, Christchurch, New Zealand. University of Canterbury. Christchurch. Prepared for Christchurch City Council and Jacobs. University of Canterbury.
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ANZSRC Fields of Research37 - Earth sciences::3709 - Physical geography and environmental geoscience::370903 - Natural hazards
37 - Earth sciences::3707 - Hydrology::370704 - Surface water hydrology
05 - Environmental Sciences::0502 - Environmental Science and Management::050205 - Environmental Management
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