21 January 2011 – The Gold Coast City Council said on Friday that its Hinze Dam was “good planning” and would help protect the city from floods, as it released what it said were among Australia’s most sophisticated flood maps.

The statement to reassure its residents came as a council meeting this endorsed $450,000 in financial support for flood reconstruction.

A spokeswoman for the council said the Queensland  floods could well inform policy changes on the Gold Coast but these were under constant review.

“We have in place robust and adaptive planning which envisages situations like that experienced in the recent Queensland floods,” the spokeswoman said.

“As new knowledge about climate change comes to hand these council’s planning, mitigation and response programs are under constant review and improvement.

“We will be looking at the Queensland floods to see if there are any new lessons to be learned or information which could help us plan for future events.

“Council’s waterways and flood management team has a dedicated staff of eight with expertise in hydraulics, coastal engineering, civil engineering and spatial analysis.

“In addition, Council has five full-time staff committed to its dedicated disaster management Unit and 80 staff trained for deployment in emergency response.

“About 25 of these staff are currently deployed in areas hit by flooding.  And, in addition council also employs hydraulic engineers who assist with development assessment and drainage and stormwater management.

The council’s newly released flood maps are available on its website (www.goldcoastcity.com.au) To view, type in “flood maps” in the search box.

A media statement from Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke said that recent media reports claiming 20,000 homes would be flooded in a 1 in 100 year flood were mere sensationalism.

“The figure comes from a table in a 2007 academic paper, presumably based on a simple GIS mapping exercise, but without the benefit of the world’s best-practice modelling currently employed by Council,” Mr  Clarke said.

“It is unfortunate that the author has since passed away. If he could re-run his estimates using current data he would then be able to see that about 4000 homes are likely to be exposed to over-floor flooding in the event of a 1 in 100 year flood, not 20,000 as stated.

“The existing Hinze Dam, without its latest augmentation, was already protecting the Nerang River catchment, which represents up to three quarters of the city’s lower lying residential areas. And if 1974 was to hit tomorrow, we would also benefit from the latest raising of the dam. While this stage is not yet commissioned, it is built and has additional flood storage.

“In addition, over the past five years Council’s $300 million stormwater drainage program has trebled the size of the stormwater drains right along the coastline, and this is not included. Also ignored has been our planning conditions which increase minimum levels for any new developments well above the 1 in 100 year flood level.

“We have possibly Australia’s most sophisticated flood modelling and emergency plans, including:

  • A Sustainable Flood Management Strategy and Flood Emergency Decision System
  • A Flood Code which has been used as a template for state government flood policy
  • Flood models which, for more than a decade, have factored in sea level rise, and
  • Regular flood mitigation dredging for Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creeks.”

He said the council recognised that, like most coastal cities, the Gold Coast was exposed to flooding and that had prompted its comprehensive flood planning, mitigation and response programs.

“Tallebudgera, Currumbin and Coomera catchments experienced major flood events in 2005, 2008 and 2010 without significant inundation.

“We continually review our flood planning, mitigation and response. We have spent more than $5 million on flood modelling to assist with future planning and help protect vulnerable areas, we have a comprehensive coastal management program and Council is part of the SEQ Climate Change Adaptation Research Initiative led by Griffith University, in collaboration with CSIRO and others.

“Our approach is widely respected nationally. This is borne out by the acknowledgement yesterday by the Insurance Council of Australia’s General Manager of Risk and Disaster Planning, Karl Sullivan, that people would have to work very hard to fault councils like the Gold Coast and Brisbane City on planning decisions.”

editorial@thefifthestate.com.au