2019 – Preparing for Climate Change Design, Construction and Operation of Resilient Dams

R Amigh

New Zealand’s economy is heavily dependent on export revenues generated by primary industries such as dairy, meat, agriculture, horticulture and viticulture. For these sectors, securing water for irrigation has been a key factor for growth. New Zealand has a temperate climate with generally wet winters and dry summers. The availability of water in the dry summer period is very important for these sectors to maximise production. A considerable amount of investment has already been made in the construction and operation of reservoirs for irrigation purposes. However, because climate change effects (more frequent occurrences of extreme events such as droughts and flash floods) have been observed around the world and the need for restrictions imposed on the use of water resources by regulators for environmental reasons, the need for developing water storage reservoirs has become more essential than ever. Climate change effects are already being factored into current practice. Drawing on the author’s experience, this paper discusses the potential impacts of climate change, with an emphasis on the effects of drought, on the design, construction and operation of water storage facilities with changes necessary to improve the resilience of new dams in
response to climate change. The paper also aims at raising awareness among the farming community so they can appreciate the associated risks and issues with climate change and be more cautious about planning and budgeting for their future investments in dam and irrigation projects.

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