LG and Climate Change

Local government and climate change

Councils may find it helpful to use the following table in order to assess the relevance of climate change effects to a particular local government function or operation. Further guidance for local government is provided by the Ministry for the Environment.


Affected assets or activities

Key climate influence

Possible effects

Sensitivity to Effects

Water supply and irrigation


Reduced rainfall, extreme rainfall events; increased temperature

Reduced security of supply (depending on water source); contamination of water supply.

Rivers, groundwater, water quality, water availability, coastal areas



Increased rainfall

More intense rainfall (extreme events) will cause more inflow and infiltration into wastewater network; wet weather overflow events will increase in frequency and volume; longer dry spells will increase likelihood of blockages and related dry weather overflows.



Reticulation, stopbanks

Increased rainfall; rise in sea level

Increased frequency and/or volume of system flooding; increased peak flows in streams and related erosion; groundwater level changes; saltwater intrusion in coastal zones; changing flood plains and greater likelihood of damage to properties and infrastructure.

Rivers, drainage, coastal areas


Road network and associated infrastructure

Extreme rainfall events, extreme winds

Disruption due to flooding, landslides, fallen trees and lines; direct effects of wind exposure on heavy vehicles.

Drainage, natural hazards

Planning/policy development

Management of private sector development; urban expansion; infrastructure and communications planning


Inappropriate location of urban expansion areas; inadequate or inappropriate infrastructure, costly retrofitting of systems.

Rivers, groundwater, drainage, coastal areas, natural hazards


Rural land management

Changes in rainfall, wind and temperature

Enhanced erosion; changes in type/distribution of pest species; increased fire risk; reduction in water availability for irrigation; changes in appropriate land use; changes in evapo-transpiration.

Water availability, erosion, biodiversity, biosecurity, natural hazards


Management of watercourses/ lakes/wetlands

Rainfall and temperature changes

More variation in water volumes possible; reduced water quality; sedimentation and weed growth; changes in type/distribution of pest species.

Rivers, lakes, wetlands, water quality, drainage, erosion, biosecurity

Coastal management

Infrastructure; management of coastal development

Temperature changes leading to sea level changes; extreme storm events

Coastal erosion and flooding; disruption in roading, communications; loss of private property and community assets; effects on water quality.

Coastal areas, natural hazards

Civil defence and emergency management

Emergency planning and response; recovery operations

Extreme events

Greater risks to public safety and to resources needed to manage flood, rural fire, landslip and storm events.

Natural hazards


Pest management

Temperature/ rainfall changes

Changes in range of pest species.

Biosecurity, biodiversity

Open space and community facilities management

Planning and management of parks, playing fields and urban open spaces

Temperature/ rainfall changes; extreme wind and rainfall events

Changes/reduction in water availability; changes in biodiversity; changes in type/distribution of pest species; groundwater changes; saltwater intrusion in coastal zones; need for more shelter in urban spaces.

Groundwater, drainage, water availability, biodiversity, coastal areas


Management of public transport; provision of footpaths, cycleways etc

Changes in temperature, wind and rainfall

Changed maintenance needs for public transport (road, rail) infrastructure; disruption due to extreme events.

Drainage, natural hazards

Waste management

Transfer stations and landfills

Changes in rainfall and temperature

Increased surface flooding risk; biosecurity changes; changes in ground water level and leaching.

Biosecurity, natural hazards