Candidate shares concerns over hospital flooding

QUESTIONS concerning Coffs Harbour's preparedness for floods has piqued the interest of a prospective councillor

Balancing the need for development against its potential effect on flooding has been an issue long thought about by former engineer Tad Soroczynski.

And his concern over a lack of flood mitigation measures in the Newports/Boambee creek catchment has got the attention of Coffs Harbour City Council election candidate Tony Judge.

Last week Mr Judge accompanied Mr Soroczynski on a short tour of areas in the LGA which Mr Soroczynski were at risk of flood or acted as artificial pinch points which constricted flow at critical moments.

He said there was a backlog of issues which needed to be addressed with an overall strategy for development which interacted with flood planning.


READ MORE: Flood fears as Boambee Valley development touted


"Coffs Harbour can't be developed in the west because of both creeks - Newports and Boambee - because any development to the west will increase flooding.

"It is just business as usual and if Coffs wants to be developed properly … it is necessary to have a proper management strategy and engineering input to avoid problems in the future."

Mr Judge said he got the impression the approach to flood management and development was "ad hoc", with many individual flood strategies occurring without an "overall master plan" which plotted the flow of water.

And he said seeing the amount of siltation in the creeks, accompanied by predicted sea level rises gave him an indication the area was headed for a "major problem".

"We are at high risk of flood because of development but also because the existing infrastructure to take the water away is just not sufficient," he said.

"We need to have a good long look at it and do a bit of holistic planning ... before we develop any further and make it a bigger problem - because at the end of the day the building the most at risk is our hospital."


READ MORE: FLOOD 360: 'This story is only 11 years late'


Council recently revealed they had finished the investigation and design of a key recommendation from the last Boambee/Newports creek Flood Risk Management study, a detention basin in upper Boambee Valley.

Its construction was subject to state government funding, much like a majority of flood mitigation works carried out in the Coffs Creek catchment since the last major flood in 2009.

That catchment has been the focus of the council's attention, with all recommended mitigation works from a 2005 FRM study having been either completed or investigated.

When it came to who might foot the bill for projects in the Boambee/Newports creek catchment, Mr Judge said it was a win-win opportunity for the State Government.

"In the end the resourcing needed … is not going to be met by councils, they just don't have the resources," he said.

"This strikes me as an amazing opportunity for a State Government to invest in a major infrastructure project which not only fixes the problem for the community but creates a lot of jobs."

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