Flood mismanagement blamed on decades-old Council decisions

Hans Lovejoy

Further to the article from July 25, Is Byron Shire ready for another big flood? local retired realtor Jim Mangleson has told Echonetdaily ‘No’, and says Council ‘demonstrably and provably caused the flooding and continuously lied to the community to cover up their liability.’

‘My question is not are we ready for the next flood event, it is “Why is Council not reducing flood levels caused by themselves?”’

Mangleson claims Council tried to suppress ‘their accepted and minuted liability for ordering the closure of the flood outlet at North Ocean Shores, despite numerous warnings over the years by government and consultants.’

He says Council at the time were liable ‘for increasing flooding in the area by breaching this Development Consent condition for the development of the Ocean Shores Estate.’

‘The DA required this essential flood outlet, which was built over a natural outlet to the ocean.’

Yet hydrologist and former councillor Duncan Dey told Echonetdaily, ‘Ocean outfalls will increase flood levels in Ocean Shores, not reduce them, unless they are actively managed to let water out when the ocean is low and block it when the ocean is high.’

Mangleson also asks, ‘Why isn’t Council confirming that there was a huge natural outlet at Wooyung that was illegally closed by the sand miners when they finished destroying our beaches, effectively draining their huge canefields through Ocean Shores, Golden Beach and New Brighton?

Dey replied, ‘There are also geomorphological principles, like a waterway needs to have a catchment area above a certain minimum for the stormwater to keep the waterway’s mouth open. Smaller than that and the mouth seals up with sand drifting northwards.’  

And while Mangleson claims Council adopted and published the Marshalls Creek Floodplain Plan in 1997, Duncan replied, ‘They didn’t do that.’

Yet an area of agreeance appears to be over Council’s construction of a levee bank around Golden Beach.

Mangleson says Council knew at the time it ‘would increase flood height outside that levee and then [they would need to] pump the floodwaters inside that levee onto residential properties downstream instead of into the ocean.’

Dey replied it was a valid point, ‘but hard to find the culprits. These are decisions from 40 or 50 years ago.’

Mangleson adds, ‘The flooded community has raised their concerns over the impartiality and composition of our Floodplain Committee and consultants in the past, and believe some of the current members were not aware of the past history and our Council’s involvement in denying their liability for causing the unnecessary flooding.’

Staff reply

Echonetdaily put all of Mangleson’s questions to Council staff.

Flood engineer James Flockton toldbEchonetdaily, ‘There is a lot of information in the public domain with respect to floods and floodplain management in the Byron Shire that has been detailed and studied over many years.’

‘This includes decisions made by previous councillors many years ago that may not have been supported by the whole community. 

‘This is important historical information that we can learn from, but it is time to look to the future and utilise best-practice technology and information to develop flood-mitigation solutions that will work for our residents now and into the future,’ said Flockton.

‘Our aims, through the Floodplain Risk Management Study process, are to develop, model and assess numerous potential mitigation options in order to find and choose the best options across our community. These preferred options will then be included in the Floodplain Risk Management Plan.’

Mangleson has published his claims – along with supporting documents – on The Brunswick Valley Region website. 

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