Te huringa o te āhuarangi me ngā wai

Water and climate change

Wai is life. It is a critical resource that we rely on for our survival, cultural and environmental health.

​Mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau see strong links between water and their identity – water is their birthright and a taonga.

Wai enables communities to be resilient and provide for their social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing, as well as the health of generations to come.

The impacts of climate change on our water will continue to grow

Water and climate change are inextricably linked. The impacts of a changing climate on water in Tāmaki Makaurau is already apparent.

Variability in rainfall patterns already reduces Auckland’s water supply and contributes to drought. At the same time, more frequent storms contribute to more frequent floods and coastal inundation.

As our climate changes, these events will increase in severity. Changes in the volume and location of rainfall will mean we have to rethink how we manage water and deal with issues from flooding and coastal inundation, to drought and scarcity.

Water quality will also be impacted by climate change. Higher temperatures and lower water flows have the potential to increase the growth of algae and other pest species within our water environments.

Conversely, increased storm events could displace greater qualities of sediment and other contaminants from our waterways into the marine environment.

We need to support and increase resilience in our water cycle

Aucklanders have told us that they want the mauri of water to be protected and enhanced.

Auckland Council family has responded, for example, through the water quality targeted rate and exploration of alternative supply options.

However, it is important to recognise that the ability of these interventions to improve water outcomes for Aucklanders is significantly influenced by the projected impacts of climate change.

Our response needs to take an adaptive, holistic approach while being grounded by the climate change effects that are projected for the region.

We need to make better use of what we have and ensure that resilience is built into the region’s natural water cycle, at every level.

Individual responses could include enabling the capture and reuse of water at a household scale.
Wider hapū, community and regional solutions would involve shifting to more circular water systems that restore and build resilience within the natural environments, habitats and ecosystems that are critical to a healthy and thriving water system.

Our water response also needs to recognise the potential opportunities for carbon capture within the natural environment.

Watercare has a climate change strategy (PDF, 2.91 MB) that sets out its future direction as it moves towards operating as a low carbon organisation that is resilient to climate impacts.