Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio is hopeful Council’s ongoing lobbying for state and federal funding to upgrade drainage at James Street on East and West Creeks will be realised in the short term.
Mayor Antonio said today’s (January 10) seventh anniversary of the region’s floods was an opportune time to again call on State and Federal Governments to honour their pledges to complete these vital flood mitigation projects.
“Council listed these projects as our top priority in our State Election submission which was presented to all candidates in the electorates of Toowoomba South and Toowoomba North before last November’s Queensland election,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Representatives from the higher levels of government in Brisbane and Canberra and opposition members have visited the creek crossings at James Street and are aware of how these projects complement Council’s own extensive flood mitigation work.
“Council has completed detention basins and channel works for various sections of East and West Creeks to improve flood mitigation upstream of the CBD.
“The next step is the upgrade of culverts at East and West Creeks on James Street, which is part of the Warrego Highway.
“An increase in drainage capacity at James Street will provide better protection for our residents and road users, civil infrastructure, and private property.
“The proposed culvert upgrades are key elements in Council’s Gowrie Creek Catchment Flood Mitigation program.”
Council wants to see the culverts upgraded to a nominal Q100 immunity. This option would also reduce the number of properties within the flood extent for one-in-100-year events as well as reducing the flood extents adjacent to the Horton and Prescott Street properties.
“Transport and Main Roads has completed planning for these two crossing projects, however there is no current funding commitment for construction, nor timing on when they might be constructed,” Mayor Antonio said.
Reflecting on the 2011 floods that claimed three lives in our region, including two at the James-Kitchener streets intersection, Mayor Antonio said he was one of many who thought a city 700 metres above sea level would never see the unstoppable ferocity and sheer unpredictability of nature that was displayed on January 10, 2011.
“The 2011 floods left indelible memories for anyone who witnessed the surging water or saw unimaginable pictures and vision of the disaster that isolated the city and cut off much of the broader region, including in December 2010 around Cecil Plains,” Mayor Antonio said.
“History shows there have been other floods through the city, but nothing quite on this scale in recent times.
“While we can not completely safeguard against extreme weather events, I’m confident that residents are better informed about how they can keep their families safe. We all have a role to play in ensuring that we are prepared for whatever nature throws at us.
“We were reminded of these risks during recent storms, especially those on Boxing Day which swept across western and northern parts of the region.
“Thankfully, this region was spared the worst of the damaging storms, but there were some residents who were inconvenienced or who are mopping up and assessing storm damage or crop losses. I sympathise with anyone dealing with the clean-up work.”
Mayor Antonio said while the job to repair the region’s vast road network, which took five years and totalled $247 million was completed in 2016, Council was continuing with projects to better mitigate the effects of any future flood events.
“I’m confident the region has vastly improved infrastructure that will offer greater resilience to withstand future flooding,” he said.
“Council’s top priority has been to improve public safety and upgrade our flood immunity and our awareness about preparing for inevitable future events.
“Numerous complementary projects have been completed along the Gowrie Creek catchment in Toowoomba, which combined with flood early warning systems (in Toowoomba and Oakey), offer emergency services better advance warning and greatly increases public safety.
“Council has undertaken one of the most comprehensive flood study projects by a local government in Australia. Forty-two flood studies compiled by specialist engineers covering 35 sites across the region are available to the public and will be used by Council and relevant agencies to inform future planning decisions.
“More accurate flood mapping offers a better understanding of a location’s vulnerability to flooding. It helps to raise awareness about flooding and flood risks around the region for residents and policy-makers at the State and local levels of government.”