THE Eurobodalla Shire Council has announced it is currently preparing a flood study for Wagonga Inlet that will consider the risk from current catchment-related flooding and ocean inundation events.
This comes as an academic planner is urging local government to do more to plan for sea-level rise, warning that it is only a matter of time before the Narooma Flat goes under.
At the same time, the Eurobodalla Shire is asking other local councils if they want to work together to set new sea-level rise benchmarks following the current State Government terminating the previous benchmarks set by the former Labor government.
All this sea-level planning work comes as nearly 70 University of Canberra planning and science students are visiting the Far South Coast for a week to do some field work in the area.
The students – 35 of which study coastal planning and 32 studying marine ecology — are based at Lake Tabourie until Sunday, July 21.
Their visit will include some science experiments and dropping in at Eurobodalla council.
Leading the group is Professor Barbara Norman, foundation chairperson of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Canberra.
It was Prof. Norman who also led the recent report “South East Coastal Adaptation (SECA): Coastal urban climate futures in SE Australia from Wollongong to Lakes Entrance” published by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).
The report stated Eurobodalla Shire Council and other local governments are facing increasing pressure to develop coastal areas, while local environment plans were not doing enough to take into account rising waters.
The report looked specifically at the Narooma Flats saying planning strategies in the Local Environmental Plan do not account for sea-level rise risk with the precinct designated for future growth.
Read our previous coverage of the report:
Prof. Norman told the Narooma News this week “the Narooma Flat is at risk of inundation of flooding and council should be doing more looking at the long-term impact of this flooding.”
“It is a difficult issue and council needs to think carefully about what is appropriate development – it doesn’t need to be an empty area and there could be uses like playing fields and open space,” she said.
Council however says the reality is that the Narooma Flat is a major area for employment and residential housing with the highway being the major transport route.
Eurobodalla Shire Council’s coastal and flood management planner Norm Lenehan said council was currently preparing a flood study for Wagonga Inlet that will consider the risk from current catchment-related flooding and ocean inundation events.
“The study will also examine anticipated changes to this risk under a range of projected scenarios for climate change,” Lenahan said.
“The flood study commenced in 2012, but has been stalled until council can adopt a position on sea level rise planning benchmarks which are required to inform the consideration of longer-term risk management strategies.
“Notwithstanding the delay, several key milestones from the project have been achieved including a community mail-out, public meeting and community survey.
“Running in the background have been the technical milestones of the project associated with developing and calibrating the computer modelling, however as previously stated, the finalisation of the project is dependent upon the adoption of sea level rise planning benchmarks.”
Lenehan said councillors on July 2 were given a number of options relating to the sea-level benchmarks, including adopting the old levels as some councils have or going it alone to set new benchmarks.
Instead, he said the council decided to contact neighbouring councils to see if they wanted to collectively set new benchmarks, and discussions were just now starting.
Anyone submitting a development application currently has to pay for their own coastal risk assessment or flood risk assessment, depending on the location.
Lenehan said one benefit of having new standardised sea-level rise benchmarks was that development proponents would no longer have to do these assessments as council would already have the information.
Read this week's editorial on the subject:
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