Local flood knowledge sought

Nothing beats local knowledge – that’s why community input is being sought for development of a new floodplain management strategy.

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) is keen to hear from people with knowledge of the history of flooding across the region – from Tamboritha in the north, to Wilson’s Promontory in the south; and from San Remo in the west, to Lake Wellington in the east.

The area includes Warragul, Leongatha, the Latrobe Valley, Sale, and many outlying towns.

The information will be used to inform the West Gippsland Regional Floodplain Management Strategy, which is being prepared by WGCMA in partnership with five local councils and Victoria State Emergency Service.

WGCMA Statutory Planning Manager Adam Dunn said the strategy was being developed to help the community, government and emergency services better understand flood behaviour and prepare for future flood events.

“The strategy will provide a single, regional planning document for floodplain management and help coordinate agencies and communities to minimise flood risks and take necessary action to protect people and property,” Mr Dunn said.

“It will include a three-year work plan with actions for both WGCMA, local governments and SES.

“The aim is to provide everyone with a better understanding of the flood risks across the region, and the roles and responsibilities of each agency.”

Mr Dunn encouraged community members to share their local flood knowledge with WGCMA to help determine the level of flood mitigation best suited to different locations.

“In particular, we want to hear from people with information about the specific location of flood hotspots and ideas about how flooding should be managed,” he said.

“By involving the community, not only do we develop a more complete and accurate picture of flooding in Gippsland, but we also empower and educate people about the possible impact of local floods.”

The West Gippsland Floodplain Management Strategy is being developed as an outcome of the state-wide Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy, which recognised the power of flooding to impact on people, homes, businesses, and the environment.

In addition to input from the community, councils, and emergency services, the local strategy will be informed by flood studies previously undertaken by WGCMA.

“Flood studies allow us to get more detailed information about flood behaviour in a certain area,” Mr Dunn said.

“We develop sophisticated computer models that incorporate local knowledge, anecdotal information and historical information to determine flood extents, depths and velocities for a variety of flood sizes.

“After a study has been completed, we have flood inundation maps and information that can be used by land planners, the community and emergency services staff.”

A floodplain is the area of land that is inundated when a waterway can no longer contain the catchment’s run-off within its beds and banks.

Floodplains play an important role in the temporary storage of floodwaters and often have significant environmental values.

A draft of the West Gippsland Regional Floodplain Management Strategy will be released for community consultation mid-2017, before the final strategy is released to the public at the end of 2017.

To provide input, visit the WGCMA website at www.wgcma.vic.gov.au and fill in the contact form, email westgippy@wgcma.vic.gov.au, phone 1300 094 262, or join the conversation on Facebook.