The Waimakariri Flood Protection Project is a 10 year programme to improve the level of flood protection for the districts of Waimakariri, Selwyn and Christchurch. Recognising the devastating effects that would occur from a large breakout of the primary flood protection system, this project is creating a secondary line of defence that will give these communities one of the highest levels of theoretical flood protection in the country.
This paper looks at the benefits this project is bringing to improve community resilience not just in the extreme flood event, but also the wider resilience benefits achieved during its implementation phase and prior to the “big one” occurring. These include improved understanding, awareness and preparedness of those on the floodplain through the development of a Flood Warning and Emergency Evacuation Plan; contributing to ecological resilience by coordinating physical works with planting improvements; designing and constructing improvements to the recreational assets within the affected area; and using the project’s delivery to upskill and develop a pool of contractors with a detailed knowledge of the river and the flood protection scheme.
This paper takes a holistic approach to resilience. It demonstrates that the flood protection benefits which need to be realised in the event of a large flood rely on the community having an understanding of river behaviour, having a connection to the river corridor, and understanding and valuing the role of flood protection assets. These connections provide a system-resilience that will ensure the flood protection assets currently being constructed will be maintained and “fit for purpose” when a large flood occurs in the future.