Drought highlights need for long-term flood policy commitments in Moree Plains Shire

Moree Plains Shire Council is ensuring there is adequate floodplain risk management across the Shire.
Moree Plains Shire Council is ensuring there is adequate floodplain risk management across the Shire.

While a flood in the Moree Plains may currently seem like a distant memory, the prolonged drought has highlighted the need for long-term policy commitments and action today to future-proof our communities. The same can be said for flood events.

Since May 2018, the Moree Plains Shire Floodplain Risk Management Committee has been in place, with the Committee comprising representatives across the Shire. The Committee was formed to assist Moree Plains Shire Council in the development and implementation of floodplain risk management plans across the Shire.

Since its formation, the Committee has been meeting regularly. Floodplain Risk Management Plans take time to investigate, fund and implement which is why the value of the Committee cannot be underestimated.

While the Committee represents the whole of the Shire, at the present time, the Committee focuses on floodplain initiatives for Mungindi, Pallamallawa and Moree as these locations require further investigation into their floodplain mitigation options.

READ ALSO:

Council has received funding from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) in relation to floodplain activities in Mungindi and a consultant has been engaged to undertake design and investigation works for the levee. This investigation will proceed and outcomes of community consultation will be an important part of those investigations.

The existing levee does not provide adequate protection for the residents of Mungindi. The investigation will identify the current deficiencies and the design will determine the appropriate methodology for increasing the height of the levee.

Following a bus tour in 2018, the priorities for Pallamallawa were identified. A design review of the northern levee prepared by consultants has been endorsed and Council will submit an application for funding in relation to the Pallamallawa northern levee in early 2020.

The review of the southern levee at Pallamallawa will be workshopped with the community in early 2020.

In Moree, Council received a grant during the 2013 to 2014 financial year for a project to review the Moree and Environs Floodplain Risk Management Plan (FRMP) with a two dimensional model to investigate management options and enhance land use planning evaluation of FRMP strategies.

Since this time, a number of investigations have been undertaken in relation to options for floodplain mitigation in Moree. In May 2019, Council endorsed the Moree and Environs Floodplain Risk Management Plan.

Importantly, the Plan summarises the management measures (Structural Planning and Emergency Response) that have been recommended for further investigation for Moree.

In October 2019, Council was successful in securing $137,000 from DPIE for a feasibility study of the flood risk management plan recommended options contained in this Plan. This study will allow the community, through Council and the Committee, to work through the recommendations.

Moree mayor Katrina Humphries said she was delighted that funding of this nature had been received.

"Council will use these funds awarded through the state government's Floodplain Management Grants Program to support the cost of a feasibility study to investigate implementing water management options included in its latest floodplain management plan adopted earlier this year," she said.

Mrs Humphries, who also chairs the Committee, noted that the Plan aims to benefit all community members and that Council will act based on the best technical information available.

"Moree is no stranger to floods; in 2011 and 2012 we experienced floods that displaced residents from all areas of Moree Plains Shire," she said.

"The vicious cycle of droughts and flooding rains is a reality for our community and Council will strive to ensure our homes and businesses are prepared for this."

Council's general manager Lester Rodgers explained under the NSW Floodplain Development Manual 2005 Council is legally required to update its flood management and mitigation plan.

"We are currently in stage two of the process; this includes finalising the current plan and conducting a feasibility study to further investigate implementing a range of water management options included in its latest flood management plan," Mr Rodgers said.

Once the feasibility study is completed Council will work together with Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall to secure future funding to support any physical flood mitigation works which may include raising the northern approach to Dr Geoffrey Hunter Bridge on Balo Street, developing a helipad at Yarraman and partnering in the continuance.

For more information on Council's Floodplain Risk Management, including the Moree and Environs Floodplain Risk Management Plan, visit Council's website.