Having lived for 80 years on Argyle Street with a history of family living from number 1 to number 57 over four generations I can state none of these homes have ever flooded. The town infrastructure was constructed to service much smaller numbers of houses and people. Even with some growth and less maintenance happening, and with a moratorium on development while the sewage treatment plant was being upgraded, town managed – no flooding.
Then came the development – Tallowood plus the second residence in every backyard, six units on a house block on Argyle Street, similar on Stuart Street etc. No extra infrastructure. Drains overgrown and blocked. Then came the M1 motorway creating a levee to keep water in Mullumbimby, Woodburn and all towns along the way.
In 2011 the Honourable Bill Shorten commissioned an inquiry into flood insurance and related matters, the ‘Natural Disaster Insurance Review’. This stated that the distinction between storm damage and flood damage is seen as arcane and artificial. It also recommended that all insurance policies have flood included. Many other interesting recommendations were made.
Following the 2017 flood, Hans Lovejoy published an article quoting hydrologist, Duncan Dey,stating that many gutters were blocked, uncared for, and ignored. Also quoted was Council’s Flood and Drainage Engineer, James Flockton, saying drainage structures built by NSW councils are only designed to withstand five to ten year rainfall events at best. He also advised that if Saltwater Creek were cleared and improved, then water would bypass the town. There were many other recommendations.
So, with full knowledge of the dangers they were creating Council continued to pass DAs for excessive development without any improved infrastructure.
Both NSW State and federal governments are responsible for the disaster caused by the M1 motorway and should be held responsible for fixing it before future flooding of previously flood-free homes.
Instead of the media emphasis and community pressure being on rectifying these egregious situations, the plight of the homeless is uppermost. Council and community groups are pushing for building on top of carparks, building on all Council land, and building along the rail corridor on Prince Street (which didn’t flood, although it might in the future if you fill it up with buildings), which will result in large numbers of people using inadequate infrastructure. Or yet more water will be diverted down Argyle, Queen, Crown, and Ann streets and New City Road – this will create homelessness in these streets which have been flood free for 200 years!
People are using their money, time, and energy organising raising their homes, this is a Council and government responsibility. Put the pressure where it belongs. Please consider homelessness with more thought to those of us that are not yet homeless.