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Byron Shire
February 4, 2023

Mullum Pods – a way forward

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We live in a community where there is nowhere to live and the whole world is watching what we do next, wondering if we will do what their superstar tourist destinations did and regulate the housing market

Residents east of the railway line in Mullumbimby have every reason to be irate – peak flood levels do rise when fill is introduced into a floodplain. This is a hydrological fact, sadly denied by authorities like Resilience NSW. 

Denying a truth is not a way forward in a conversation. 

When Council prepared our list of government properties for pods, we were told this land would have its pods on wheels (caravans) so they could be whisked away in flood. I’m not sure who said that. Sadly, it was not conveyed with the list. 

If the fill is to remain, the sState should consider the following way forward. It includes residents rather than vilifying them. And it doesn’t hold up the other flood victims from moving in. 

To balance up the new flood impact on this already flood-impacted neighbourhood, Resilience NSW/NRRC could make Mullumbimby east a first cab off the rank with a pilot project offering the standard three-way package: 

1. House-raising where government pays the bulk of the cost; offers a one-stop advice service; does all the paperwork; and cooperates with the landholder to include other wishes that the owner can fund (betterment). 

2. Wet-proofing with the same support as above plus with encouragement to also ‘raise’ one room to create a safe space in which residents and neighbours maybe could take refuge during floods, instead of having to travel in the dark and in water to a yet to be determined evacuation centre. The ‘Safe Room’ would be a normal bedroom in dry times but become a refuge when the lower story is inundated. It would have its own electrical circuit and kitchenette. It would have a dry composting toilet in the walk-in. Maybe this approach would overcome the impossibility of this suburb ever having a central evacuation centre. 

3. Buy-back/land swap, with the landholder choosing which of those options; and the offer covering properties already identified in Floodplain Plans plus others identified in post-2022-flood reviews of them.

And, if the fill is to remain for two years, the state should guarantee its removal as part of their deal for making good the site afterwards. 

Duncan Dey, Byron Shire Councillor; BE (Civil) and flood hydrologist 


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, I’m a Systems Analyst. To mitigate a mound, you simply dig a corresponding hole.
    But flood dynamics are one of flow, not volume. If Outflow = Inflow + Any number, It can’t flood. You simply need to get the water from here -> there without pooling or using someones living room as a flow channel.

  2. Hi Duncan, thanks for the article.

    I note all this talk about ‘Buy-back/land swap’, its a good concept, however where exactly is there available residential land to swap or purchase following a property buyback?

    Byron Council has no up to date residential strategy, and the current rural land use strategy does not provide any real solutions for new residential.

    Can you please provide any ideas or feedback on what Council is doing to provide suitable, flood-free land in the shire for residential land swap / buyback ?

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