Jeremy Stewart, Whian Whian
I am surprised that the pre-eminent flood mitigation proposals for Byron Shire reported in the recent Echo article are a parade of conventional engineering modifications.
Caution: historical experience of these kind of solutions to flooding has proved that they are expensive and of limited effect, that they impact elsewhere, and givepeople a false sense of security.
It’s time a more holistic approach was taken, which improves human impacts throughout the catchment, and sets the scene for a whole range of more desirable social, economic and environmental benefits and innovation.
In the upper catchment, landholders could be incentivised and supported to slow water runoff and increase soil absorption of water through measures such as reforestation, riparian enhancements, improved pasture management, improved orchard floor management and leaky ponds.
In the lower catchment, we could enhance, reinstate or construct wetlands for water control, habitat, recreation, tourism, alternative systems of agriculture and aquaculture.
Urban areas could be supported to install slow-release stormwater retention systems, planned to let the water through, and promote other development controls that reduce runoff such as porous surfaces and soakage pits.
Please, let’s encourage a bigger conversation, and see water for what it is – a magical blessing rather than something we need to get rid of as quickly as possible.