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Monday, July 9, 2012

Protecting Canterbury’s “lifeline” infrastructure from the worst

EQC have released a report The Value of Lifeline Seismic Risk Mitigation in Christchurch. It is available in two versions: a Summary Report and a Full Report. They can be downloaded from here.

Commissioned by EQC, the report identifies significant benefits from seismic strengthening and collaboration initiatives in Christchurch following a 1997 review, Risks and Realities. EQC have, over a number of years, funded a large amount of research into natural disasters, preparedness, and disaster recovery.  The extent, competence, and value of this part of their activities has been lost sight of in the last 18 months due the absence of such qualities in EQC’s bread and butter role.

That 1997 review arose from work commenced in the early 1990s by the Christchurch Engineering Lifelines Group who had identified vulnerabilities in “lifelines” such as electricity and other parts of the city’s infrastructure.  Lifeline utilities are defined in the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002.

From the Summary Report:

The substantial programme of seismic mitigation fostered by the Canterbury Lifeline Utilities Group and undertaken by Christchurch lifeline utilities over many years, served Christchurch well in reducing earthquake losses and facilitating emergency responses and recovery. The damage would have been greater and the response slower if the preparatory work fostered by the Group had not been undertaken.

In terms of ensuring Christchurch is well prepared for any future disaster it is a very useful document against which to assess the level of preparedness built into public and private sector development plans.

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