Engineering Lifelines


August Weather Event 2022

Information relating to the recent weather event in Marlborough

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Engineering Lifelines

Marlborough Engineering Lifelines Group

Lifelines are the essential infrastructure and services that support the life of our community - utility services such as water, wastewater and stormwater, power, gas, telecommunications and transportation networks including road, rail, airports and ports.

What is Lifelines Engineering?

Lifelines Engineering is an informal, regionally-based process of lifeline utility representatives working with scientists, engineers and emergency managers to identify interdependencies and vulnerabilities to regional scale emergencies.

Lifelines projects take an all-hazards approach. While there has been a traditional emphasis on natural hazard events, work is also encompassing other hazards such as the threat of pandemic.

This collaborative process provides a framework to enable integration of asset management, risk management and emergency management across utilities.

Objectives of Lifelines Engineering are to:

  • Reduce damage following a major disaster
  • Reduce the time lifeline utilities will take to restore their usual level of service after such an event

The Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 requires individual Lifeline Utilities to establish planning and operational relationships with CDEM Groups. Each Lifeline Utility must be able to support these groups by exchanging information about their risk management processes and their readiness and response arrangements. In many regions, this flow of information is facilitated by the Lifelines Group.

Marlborough Engineering Lifelines Group

The first meeting of the Marlborough Engineering Lifelines Group (MELG) was held in February 2008. The meeting was hosted by Marlborough District Council and attended by emergency managers, engineers and representatives of all the major utility service providers in the Marlborough region. Marlborough District Council will continue to facilitate regular meetings of the Lifelines Group with particular emphasis on group workshops and practical planning exercises in order to meet the objectives of Engineering Lifelines.

The initial objective of MELG is to identify the operationally significant lifelines sites and routes throughout the region. Once these have been mapped it will be possible to focus on critical hotspots where many services may congregate (eg; a major road bridge with other services attached).

Subsequently the group will assess and coordinate the collective planning or engineering works needed to mitigate the risk. The latest outputs of lifeline groups throughout New Zealand has shown this approach will focus attention on an essential priority list of regionally critical sites that may not be immediately apparent from the individual asset owners' asset management plans.

Mitigation planning will concentrate on the hotspots. The Lifeline Group members will be led through the four principles of emergency planning in order to evolve a collaborative mitigation strategy throughout the region:

  • Remove
    Wherever possible relocate the utility away from the potential hazard
  • Reduce
    If it is not possible to relocate the utilities, consider engineering solutions to reduce the consequences of the hazard threat
  • Respond
    Plan for an emergency event to ensure the response is timely and appropriate
  • Recover
    Ensure the facilities and resources are available to restore the usual level of service in the shortest possible time

Future projects for the Marlborough Engineering Lifelines Group are likely to include:

  • An interdependency exercise
  • Fuel and resource planning
  • Improved contact and communication
  • Identification of hazard vulnerability for further research
  • Other areas of collaboration and emergency planning such as maps of safe routes, priorities for disaster restoration and emergency communications arrangements for lifeline utilities

The overall outcome will be a much greater understanding of general vulnerabilities and interdependencies that individual utility response plans need to take into account.

All of the various outputs from the Lifelines Group will provide valuable material for emergency managers at regional and local levels to better understand the region's vulnerabilities. This will be vital information for the preparation of response to emergency events.

Marlborough Engineering Lifelines in the community

Planning and operational relationships shall be established in Marlborough through a thorough understanding of the Lifeline Utilities' capabilities. Emergency managers will coordinate this knowledge with other elements of the community including the emergency service providers, business sector, voluntary organisations and the media to assist with their preparation and response.

As well as further developing the preparedness of Lifelines operators for major hazard events, one of the key areas of emphasis is to create and maintain awareness of the importance of lifelines to the Marlborough community at large. Lifelines' work helps to portray a wider perspective of what major hazard events will mean for the community. For example, people react to the thought of being without water or sewage facilities for a week far more consciously than they do to the threat of being injured by a damaged building in an earthquake.

Further strategies will be developed to communicate the hazards to the Marlborough community and raise awareness of the potential consequences of an emergency event.


  • Marlborough Airport
  • Marlborough Civil Defence
  • Marlborough District Council
  • Marlborough Lines
  • Marlborough Roads
  • Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management
  • National Engineering Lifelines
  • Ontrack
  • Port Marlborough
  • Spark
  • Transpower
  • Vodafone


Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management

Auckland Engineering Lifelines

Waikato EngineeringLifelines Group

GNS Science Ltd