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Byron Shire
July 7, 2022

Never again

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Letters to the editor

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Very wet and very dry: unprecedented droughts and hyper-damaging floods in the future

The world will be pushed to more weather extremes in coming decades, according to two studies which carry stark warnings of floods and droughts, respectively.

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Flood-prone land in Murwillumbah swapped for flood-free land 

It has been five years in the making but the innovative land swap of flood-prone land for flood-free land in Murwillumbah is underway with a second round of ‘expressions of interest’ about to open. 

Two whales simultaneously entangled in shark nets off SEQ coast today

Two whales have been entangled in shark nets on Queensland's coast today, one at Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast and the other at Marcoola Beach on the Sunshine Coast, Humane Society International says.

It seems to me that the floods became a ‘never again’ moment in time for Lismore and to a lesser extent Mullumbimby. It is no longer tenable for people to lose everything and expect, and be expected, to claw their way back.

Everyone knows that with climate change this will happen again, and again, so it is clear to me that the time has come for serious engineering solutions. I, and probably many others, have been thinking a lot about the Mullum flooding and have come up with a plan.

First of all the Brunswick River, and all of its feeder streams, need to be dredged to allow faster movement of water downstream and out to sea. The soil dredged can be used to raise the height of the banks of the river and creeks.

We need to be able to temporarily extract large volumes of water from the system, so the second step involves digging a billabong on the flooding farmland bounded by the rugby club, the river and Argyle Street, behind the iconic LOVE sign.

Let’s say, if Mullum floods to half-a-metre deep over a square km, significantly higher than this flood – this amounts to 500,000 cubic metres. A 10-hectare billabong five metres deep can absorb all of that water and release it at next low tide, or when it is safe to do so.

The 500,000 cubic metres of displaced dirt could conceivably be used to raise the level (two metres high over 25 hectares) of the paddock opposite for conversion to a possible housing estate, providing of course that strong water management policies are in place to not exacerbate flooding for existing houses, maybe via engineered waterways.

These properties would need to be purchased at a fair price. It would take a long time to dig and have the inconvenience of dirt-laden truck traffic. But it is better than a repeat of what happened. Open to discussion, [email protected] 

Mark (O’Brien) Alok, Montecollum

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  1. Pity people are to religious to listen to such simple solutions. They have to believe ‘cow farts’ and go along with what their priests say.


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