Queanbeyan: After the floods

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Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall writes:

Queanbeyan’s floods in December were damaging, the floods which have raged through Queensland over the past week have been devastating and almost unbelievable.

A number of Queanbeyan houses and businesses were ravaged during the floods which rose to 8.4m, but when you compare that to the complete devastation and loss of life seen in Queensland you can say that our city was somewhat fortunate.

The flood which tore through Queanbeyan was very powerful and the effects of it can still be clearly seen as you travel along the Queanbeyan River.

It has been more than a month since the flood and the clean-up shows no signs of easing up, yet with at least a few months of work remaining. Council workers and contractors have made a dent in the clean-up but there is still along way to go.

Hampering the efforts is the fact that a number of areas along the river are difficult to access due to the wet ground. A contractor has been engaged to help remove the dead willows and poplars along the banks of the Queanbeyan River while some roads around the rural locality of Burra and the fire trail in Greenleigh were damaged and will need to be repaired or replaced.

Following the flood Queanbeyan was declared a natural disaster area meaning that Council will be the recipient of emergency assistance funding to assist with the clean up.

Just 10 days after the December event, Council convened a meeting with ACTEW and the National Capital Authority to discuss options to reduce the impact of future floods. From the meeting it was agreed that ACTEW would aim to control/manage water inflows to Googong at around 80 per cent capacity, however, this is controlled water inflow only and dam levels from natural inflow are not manageable given the absence of spillway gates.

The meeting was very constructive and focused on the possibility of flood mitigation measures in the short, medium and longer terms – and the management of water levels in Googong and Scrivener Dam.

Queanbeyan remains at risk of another flood due to Googong Dam being at 100 per cent and continuing summer rains ensuring the ground saturation level is exceptionally high. Another deluge in the catchment has the potential to create a similar event to the December 9 flood, if not worse. One saving grace could be that the flow rate of the Queanbeyan River may be improved due to the amount of debris that was cleared from the River in December.

While the risk of flooding remains, it is by no means a time for Queanbeyan residents to be overly concerned. Warnings will be issued by relevant authorities (Bureau of Meteorology and State Emergency Service) should a high level of rainfall be predicted. In the meantime, if you live in a low-lying area it’s recommended that you visit www.floodsafe.nsw.gov.au and read up on what you can do to make your property as safe as possible in regards to flooding.

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