9 C
Byron Shire
August 9, 2022

Flood planning is lacking

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As the shock wears off, and the clean up begins, attention may turn to how to improve against flooding for the Byron Shire in the future.

Some obvious questions include: How can town drainage in the Shire be improved (it’s known to be in disrepair); Do roads and bridges need to be built to higher engineering standards; Can Council’s water pumps, that supply town water, be more resilient in floods so they don’t fail?

Where will this money come from?

Was the evacuation and BoM advice adequate, and how can it be improved? Is the local mobile network really up to scratch?

Is it in the best interests of any community to be so heavily reliant on an ageing electricity network that takes days/weeks to be fixed?

The last large scale flooding event, which caused massive damage, was in 2017.

Residents shouldn’t be expected to accept this as the new normal, though it certainly smells that way.

Compromised and smelly political actors who have abandoned community for corporate donations is one of the reasons we are at this point.

Those funded by fossil fuel corporations – and thus making climate change worse – are the same political actors throwing our tax money back at us in the form of ‘grants’.

Aren’t we lucky! They clearly think it’s a vote winner!

Anyway, on a more practical note, understanding the nuances of the problem is key to improving flood mitigation.

Luckily, Council has a North Byron Catchment Flood Risk Management Study and Plan, which aims to help the community better prepare for future events. The public had its say in January 2021, and the focus was on the Brunswick River, Simpsons Creek and Marshalls Creek catchments.

These catchments were the main cause for the last disaster in 2017 and the one that just happened.

So what does the plan say?

Mullumbimby was identified as the most flood-affected town in the catchment, as ‘41 per cent of all flood-affected residential properties are located in Mullumbimby’.

One recommended measure was to ‘Undertake an Evacuation Assessment for Mullumbimby’. The development of a Flood Warning Network for North Byron was also proposed. Other recommendations were to ‘Implement debris control measures for Federation Bridge and Billinudgel Railway Bridge’, and the ‘Development of a whole of catchment drainage model and an overland flow path investigation’.

The report also identified 15 possible houses (nine of which are in Mullumbimby) that could be voluntarily acquired by the government.

It was suggested that the land is then ‘given over to public space and should be rezoned as an appropriate use such as E2 Environmental Conservation or similar in the LEP, so that no future development can take place [on those blocks of land].’

A potential levee for Billinudgel was proposed, as well as infrastructure improvements for Billinudgel. However, dredging of the Brunswick River, its tributaries or the Marshalls Creek was not recommended as a flood management option.

Similarly, no further changes to the rock walls at Brunswick Heads were recommended.

While the walls may slow down floodwater exiting, they also slow down the impacts of ocean inundation, according to the study.

While it’s not clear what, if any, of the above recommendations were explored or enacted by Council, we do have a fancy looking Emergency Dashboard on Council’s website.

It clearly wasn’t enough on the night of February 28, 2022.

Hans Lovejoy, editor


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Forced retreat will need to be considered as ‘new’ record flooding becomes a norm making land no go areas for permanent structures.

    • No No.
      Climate change is going to dry the place out, that’s why dams won’t work!
      You were all telling me this last week.

      • Truly Chris you must know the predictions – and the reality we are already seeing – more severe extreme weather events at both ends of the spectrum.

      • If you listened carefully, you would know that climate change will bring more SEVERE conditions = more powerful storms, longer periods of droughts, and these disasters will affect larger areas. That is what the climate scientists were saying for decades. In the past there were floods or fires in one area, now they affect several states. Today we have water up to our roof, next there will be again widespread drought. But maybe we could build levees and water storage facilities, which would prevent the severe floods, then the water could to some point alleviate the lack of rain when the next drought comes.

  2. It seems the private Facebooks had the only local and detailed facts. The SBS and Fire brigade sites had only general warnings which are not that useful when the rain is already crashing down and houses and roads disappearing.

    Thanks for the chopper evacuations.

    The lack of information and the lack of accounting for everyone were the real problems

  3. Hmmmm, then of course there’s the question of housing, as lucrative a commodity in the Byron shire as anywhere else.
    The sooner we have truly social housing developments, the sooner we balance the misanthropic political culture of exclusive home ownership.
    The taller they are built above floodwaters, the more scope their is for integrated land management around them.
    Maybe this won’t be such an extreme idea in light of recent events.

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