Flooding: residents get to the point

A RECENT meeting to discuss different flood mitigation measures has left a trail of concern.

The Shoalhaven City Council Greenwell Point Floodplain Risk Management Options Feasibility study, which began last year, looked into flooding at Greenwell Point.

Two options discussed at a community forum included a levee around the Greenwell Point waterfront and raising the height of Greenwell Point Road to Nowra to provide higher access during a flood.

Pyree dairy farmer Ian Zandstra, one of the residents closely following the consultation, said the flood management plan was taking extreme flooding into consideration.

“They are talking of floods of heights we’ve never heard of,” he said

“That’s not to say they won’t happen but I think we can handle the known flood heights we’ve had.

“I think the big issue from a farmer’s point of view is that building the road higher will dam the flood plain north to south.”

Mr Zandstra said the height of Greenwell Point Road was raised in 1980. 

He said if it was raised any more it would cause problems on the surrounding farms.

“This big flood they are speaking about is scary stuff.”

Mr Zandstra said if the flood was as devastating as the talk makes out, farmers will get their cattle out any way they can, even using the higher road as a refuge island.

“Unlike the 1970s, now there are thousands more cows, the herds are bigger and those cows will be on this new road blocking any access anyway, otherwise they will drown.”

Shoalhaven City Council’s floodplain manager Isabelle Ghetti said there was little community support for the levee at the meeting.

“Community members were more worried about local drainage issues,” she said.

“Greenwell Point would become an island in a flood and we want residents to be able to get out safely.

“A levee would cost $10 million, but would save taxpayers $40 million over 50 years.”

Ms Ghetti said the plans to raise the road would take into account the issue of creating a dam across the floodplain.

“That’s why we would have to provide appropriate drainage under the roads. We are well aware of these issues,” she said.

“Obviously it would be fine to use the road as a refuge island for cattle for the purpose of evacuation and we want people to come forward with their concerns like these.

“We want to protect livestock and people and there are other options to look at like flood mounds. An example of this is like what they are doing for the Broughton Creek area.”

Ms Ghetti said many people asked why opening the river to the sea at Shoalhaven Heads was not an option for flood management.

“It was an option we looked into in 2008, but there are different forms of flooding,” she said.

“If the flooding caused a rise from the sea, opening the Heads could make the situation worse.

“We have been recommended a plan where we will be told when we can open the Heads.”

Findings from the community forum are being finalised and will be taken to council in October.

“We will then be asking the community for recommendations with a public exhibition,” Ms Ghetti said.


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