The Toowoomba Region next week (May 17-20) is hosting hundreds of delegates in person and online for the 2022 Floodplain Management Australia (FMA) national conference at the Empire Theatres complex.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said Council was pleased to welcome delegates to the Region after the Coronavirus forced the 2020 national conference to be switched to an online format.

“I thank Floodplain Management Australia President Ian Dinham and his organisation for the work involved in organising such an informative conference involving leading industry professionals and a wide range of case studies that are drawn from many different flood events and subsequent mitigation work,” Mayor Antonio said.

“I’m pleased that delegates can return to the regular conference format to participate in the presentations and join the site tours to view some of the major flood mitigations projects Council has completed.”

FMA President Ian Dinham said: “We are incredibly grateful for the support of Toowoomba in the preparation of this national event and welcome the opportunity to showcase the area.

“The work that the Toowoomba Region has undertaken in flood risk management is exceptional and is an outstanding example of excellence in the industry.

“We very much look forward to seeing some of the flood mitigation projects in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley during our field trips.

“We are planning for over 220 delegates from around Australia and New Zealand to be coming to Toowoomba, plus another 100 to participate online.

“The recent east coast flooding will be a major topic for discussion, and the program includes a keynote address by Queensland Flood Recovery Coordinator Major General Jake Ellwood.”

Mayor Antonio said this year’s conference theme, Integrated Floodplain Management: creating safer, stronger communities, rang true for the Toowoomba Region and many surrounding local authorities.

“Thankfully, the Toowoomba Region can pinpoint exactly where and how we’ve turned our vision for a safer, stronger, more flood resilient Region into reality across many parts of our 13,000km² Region through major flood mitigation projects and planning controls for development based on leading practice in floodplain management,” Mayor Antonio said.

“Preparation and planning have never been more critical. That’s why transforming vision into action is paramount for safeguarding our communities.

“Following the 2010/11 floods, Council embarked on one of the largest and most ambitious bodies of Flood Risk Management Studies and Flood Risk Management Plans undertaken by a local government in Australia, to build a Safer, Stronger, More Resilient Region.

“Our Flood Risk Assessment Planning Evaluation and Scheme Amendment (FRAPESA) project was the core of this work. It delivered multiple flood studies for 30 townships and the Condamine River catchment, along with comprehensive recommendations to better regulate development within flood risk areas to protect people, property, infrastructure and the environment from flooding.

“More accurate flood mapping allows a better understanding of a location’s vulnerability to flooding and helps to raise awareness about flooding and flood risks around the Region for residents as well as State and local government policy-makers.

“Our studies have provided greater clarity around what type of development is best suited to different areas, depending on the flood risk.

“This not only protects human life and property, but also has a beneficial flow-on effect for the insurance sector. These studies are living documents which will be regularly updated to reflect new development.”

Mayor Antonio said Council was compiling a list of projects which would be submitted for Betterment funding consideration following February’s severe weather event and subsequent flooding.

“At this point we are anticipating restoration costs in the order of $100 million and we are seeking additional funding for infrastructure resilience improvements well beyond this figure from this year’s events. This further highlights the importance of sharing ideas, case studies and information at the conference.”

Toowoomba Regional Council Infrastructure Services Committee chair Cr Carol Taylor said Council had raised the profile of flood risk management across the Toowoomba Region through proactively engaging and educating residents, industry groups, government agencies, community organisations and emergency services personnel on best practice flood risk management.

“Council’s top priority is to improve public safety and upgrade our flood immunity and our awareness about preparing residents for inevitable future events,” Cr Taylor said.

“Recent heavy rain events in Toowoomba late last year, and across February and March this year, showed that the various projects are working to do exactly what they were designed to do by keeping the creeks flowing in their respective channels to Gowrie Creek.

“While we can’t completely safeguard against extreme weather events, I’m confident that our Region has vastly improved infrastructure that will offer greater resilience to withstand future flooding and mitigate flood impacts.”

Cr Taylor said the value of real-time access to vital information via Council’s Guardian disaster management system came to the fore during the recent heavy rain and flooding events.

“The TRC disaster dashboard recorded more than 387,000 page views from February 24 to April 4 this year. This included almost 63,000 new users who accessed the latest information,” Cr Taylor said.

“The common goal of conference attendees is to help each of our communities to be in the best position to prepare for, and respond to, inevitable flood events based on sound information.

“Having attended previous conferences, I appreciate the opportunity to hear from engineers and other professionals in their field, who are delivering projects to safeguard communities across Australia.

“I particularly acknowledge TRC’s Infrastructure Services General Manager Mike Brady, TRC Manager of Transport and Drainage Planning Rod Betts and the Drainage Planning team for their efforts with FMA and East Coast Conferences to plan this year’s conference program. I also acknowledge TRC officers who will deliver presentations this year.”

FMA was established following the disastrous New South Wales floods of the 1950s to support and promote best practice in floodplain management. It has grown to a national association with links to flood related organisations in the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

For conference details, please visit https://floodplainconference.com/#