Increasing the uptake of building-scale water sensitive urban design stormwater management options in Christchurch, New Zealand (2019)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineWater Resource Management
Degree NameMaster of Water Resource Management
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Christchurch Ōtautahi, New Zealand, is a city of myriad waterways and springs. Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, have water quality at the core of their cultural values. The city’s rivers include the Avon/Ōtākaro, central to the city centre’s aesthetic appeal since early settlement, and the Heathcote/Ōpāwaho. Both have been degraded with increasing urbanisation. The destructive earthquake sequence that occurred during 2010/11 presented an opportunity to rebuild significant areas of the city. Public consultation identified enthusiasm to rebuild a sustainable city.
A sustainable water sensitive city is one where development is constructed with the water environment in mind. Water sensitive urban design applies at all scales and is a holistic concept. In Christchurch larger-scale multi-value stormwater management solutions were incorporated into rapidly developed greenfield sites on the city’s outskirts and in satellite towns, as they had been pre-earthquake. Individual properties on greenfield sites and within the city, however, continued to be constructed without water sensitive features such as rainwater tanks or living roofs.
This research uses semi-structured interviews, policy analysis, and findings from local and international studies to investigate the benefits of building-scale WSUD and the barriers that have resulted in their absence. Although several inter-related barriers became apparent, cost, commonly cited as a barrier to sustainable development in general, was strongly represented. However, it is argued that the issue is one of mindset rather than cost. Solutions are proposed, based on international and national experience, that will demonstrate the benefits of adopting water sensitive urban design principles including at the building scale, and thereby build public and political support. The research is timely - there is still much development to occur, and increasing pressures from urban densification, population growth and climate change to mitigate.
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