Showing posts with label flooding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flooding. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Has Australia lost another species to climate change?

The Guardian, 15 February 2020:

Drought, bushfires and rainstorms turn Australian rivers black

Luke Pearce had arrived at Mannus Creek for a three-day mission to rescue the Murray-Darling Basin’s last population of Macquarie perch.

For 10 years Pearce had visited this spot on the edge of the Snowy Mountains that, just weeks earlier, was ravaged by fire. There had been rain and the creek was flowing fast.

But as Pearce and his colleagues stood on the bank – nets at the ready – the water turned “to a river of black porridge”.

We got there at about midday with two teams. But we were too late,” he says.

Pearce is a fisheries manager in the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. A week earlier, he had caught nine of the endangered perch and taken them to the tanks at Narrandera Fisheries Centre.

But Pearce says nine was not enough to be confident they could breed enough in captivity to replenish the river. About 100 specimens would be be ideal, but Pearce says the fish are in such low numbers that he was hoping for 20. Hence the rescue mission on 20 January.

It was a front of black water coming down,” Pearce says. “The water was pretty bad to start with, but it went from green to inky black.

It was a moment of complete despair and, really, a feeling of a missed opportunity. Maybe if we’d got there four or five hours earlier we may have been able to get one or two more.”

An electronic probe in the water monitoring the oxygen levels dropped to show zero within hours, Pearce says.

Watching those oxygen levels drop like that I had grave fears we could have lost all the fish in that system. It was devastating having worked there for such a long time to then potentially lose all this.”

The river was too black to see any fish, but crayfish, shrimp and mayfly larvae were crawling out.

What happened at Mannus Creek is one example of what scientists have described as a “triple whammy” hitting rivers on Australia’s east coast and inland.

Drought and a long-term drying has delivered a cascade of mass fish kills since late 2018, with low river flows, low oxygen and algal blooms. Authorities and politicians warned repeatedly in 2019 that ongoing drying would see more mass fish kills.

Then Australia’s bushfire crisis struck across catchments. Now heavy rain has washed sludge and ash into rivers, robbing the remaining fish of oxygen.

Hundreds of thousands of fish have died in multiple events – some caused by lack of water, and some caused by downpours running over burned catchments.

At one time, Macquarie perch was one of the most abundant native fish in the Murray-Darling system – prized by anglers and also commercial fishers.

But a NSW government assessment of the fish in 2008 wrote the building of dams and weirs had compromised spawning areas and blocked the fish’s movement. Overfishing, pollution and predation by introduced species like redfin perch had also caused numbers to plummet.

When Luke Pearce returned to Mannus Creek after the fires he was confronted with a scene of carnage. Photograph: Luke Pearce

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Tropical Cyclone Uesi predicted to cause damaging seas along Australia's east coast as it weakens

Tropical Cyclone Uesi at Category Two level, Monday 10 February 2020

The Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre Port Vila, Vanuatu, has this particular cyclone tracking south west towards south-east Qld and the NSW North Coast as it weakens.

Weatherzone reported on 10 February 2020 that:

At this stage, there is a fair bit of uncertainty around the movement of this system from Thursday onwards, with a range of plausible scenarios. 
Some forecast models suggest that Uesi will move towards the southwest on Thursday and Friday, which would allow it to move closer to Australia's east coast towards the end of the week. If this happens, the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Uesi, most likely in the form of an extra-tropical cyclone, could cause direct impacts in eastern NSW or southeast Queensland. These impacts could include large and dangerous surf, strong winds and heavy rain. It's worth pointing out that dangerous wind and rain would only occur if the system gets close enough to the coast, while powerful surf can reach Australia even if the system stays well offshore.

The Weekly Times, 11 February 2020

According to the Fiji Meteorological Service, which is tracking Uesi, its current route should take it in a south-westerly direction towards the coasts of both New South Wales and Queensland. It could enter Australian waters as early as Thursday.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology also says there is a moderate chance the cyclone could turn southwest towards Australia on Thursday — giving odds of between 20%-50% the storm will enter the Coral Sea’s eastern region.

Issued at 2:37 am AEDT Thursday 13 February 2020. 
Refer to Tropical Cyclone Advice Number 7.

ABC News, 12 February 2020:

Tropical Cyclone Uesi could cause more havoc across the NSW coastline later this week, bringing swells of up to 5 metres. 

The news comes as the clean-up continues after the weekend's wild weather. 

The category three cyclone, which is passing north-east of New Caledonia, will track south-west towards the Tasman Sea and could cause increased swells, wind and rainfall as early as Thursday. 

ABC News weather journalist Graham Creed said the cyclone was expected to come closest to the coast on Friday and Saturday. 

"This may produce large swells, which combined with king tides may cause issues for beach erosion, as well as prolong the potential for locally heavy rainfall in showers and thunderstorms," he said....

The forecast at this stage is for swells of about 2 to 3 metres starting on the north NSW coast on Thursday and increasing to 3 to 5 metres on Friday....

By 8pm this evening, Thursday 13 February Cyclone Uesi will have dropped to a tropical low (while possibly maintaining an intensity equivilant to a Category 2 tropical cyclone) and is expected to sit less than 600km to the east of Tweed Heads as the crow flies.

At 2am Friday 14 February 2020 the tropical low is expected to be sitting further south less than 600km to the east of Moonee Beach.

Late Friday night the low will continue to track south before veering further away from the NSW coastline on Saturday.


*Image from Weatherzone, tracking map from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology & animated satellite image from NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Moderate flooding beginning to occur in the Clarence Valley

The Daily Examiner, 9 February 2020

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales

Minor to Moderate Flood Warning for the Orara River

at Glenreagh and Coutts Crossing

Issued at 3:18 am EDT on Sunday 9 February 2020
Flood Warning Number: 18
Minor flooding is expected at Glenreagh Sunday morning.
Moderate flooding is occurring along the Orara River at Coutts Crossing.
Further rain is forecast for the next 36 to 48 hours which could cause renewed river level rises. The situation is being closely monitored and revised forecasts will be issued if necessary.

Orara River:

Moderate flooding is occurring along the Orara River at Coutts Crossing.
The Orara River at Glenreagh Automatic Gauge is expected to exceed the minor flood level (5.00 metres) Sunday morning.
The Orara River at Glenreagh Bridge (manual flood gauge) is expected to exceed the minor flood level (4.00 metres) Sunday morning.
The Orara River at Coutts Crossing was 9.00 metres at 2:35 am Sunday with moderate flooding. Further rises are possible with forecast rain.

Flood Safety Advice:

In life threatening emergencies, call 000 (triple zero) immediately. If you require rescue, assistance to evacuate or other emergency help, ring NSW SES on 132 500.
  • * Avoid drowning. Stay out of rising water, seek refuge in the highest available place.
  • * Prevent damage to your vehicle. Move it under cover, away from areas likely to flood.
  • * Avoid being swept away. Stay out of fast-flowing creeks and storm drains.
  • * Never drive, ride or walk through flood water. Flood water can be deceptive and dangerous.
Latest Far North Coast river heights can be found here.

Monday, 29 July 2019

247,000 coastal homes in Australia are in the firing line if sea level rises reach 1.1metres

ABC News, 22 July 2019:

The latest figures from the Department of Environment  warn a sea level rise of 1.1 metres, considered a high-end scenario, would cost $226 billion nationally by the end of the century.

If that eventuates, it would put up to 68,000 homes at risk in Queensland and the same number in New South Wales.

In Victoria and South Australia, it would be up to 48,000 homes, up to 30,000 in Western Australia and up to 15,000 in Tasmania.

Every coastal community in Australia is doing its own mapping, but Noosa may take it a step further.

The Noosa Shire is now considering how best to warn owners, both current and future, about the risk.

Councillors say the estimated 2,232 Noosa properties likely to be affected by storm flooding in 80 years' time could be told directly via rates notices.

Possible buyers may also be alerted through routine property or rates searches.

Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said it was "a problem that every coastal council is facing around the world now — and it's an issue of defend or retreat obviously".

"What we have to look at is whether it is feasible and possible to defend property, in a worst-case scenario, or whether it is not possible, and what the cost implications are," he said.

"And then you have to ask whether all residents should be funding for protection of a few properties.

"It's a very complicated issue."

The Mayor also said it was a matter of "buyer beware" and those in low-lying areas ought to know the risks.

In 2015, a report to Byron Bay Council warned that certain homes may become "voluntary house purchases" where the council buys homes at risk of flooding "to reduce risk to life and limb"…..

The Insurance Council of Australia said climate declarations and long-term fears of flooding would not affect premiums, but actual storm or water damage could.
"If you're already at risk and climate change predicts that you will become further exposed, then your premiums over the next 30–80 years will go up to reflect changes in that risk," the council's Campbell Fuller said.

Even the current rate of global sea level rise at 3.4mm each year has the potential to impact on vulnerable coastal towns such as Yamba on the NSW Far North Coast.

Excerpt from Clarence Valley Council Yamba Floodplain Risk Management Plan, February 2009:

Flooding at Yamba can occur as a result of a combination of high flows in the Clarence River, high ocean levels, wind wave action along the foreshore or from intense rain over the local catchment. The risk to life due to river flooding is considered to be low as inundation occurs gradually and with several hours (or days) warning. Similarly, flood hazard resulting from ocean storm surge is also considered low as there is likely to be several hours warning of an event, with the peak of the storm lasting for less than a day. The Floodplain Risk Management Study indicates a storm surge warning time of 6 to 24 hours. It should be noted however that the flood hazard can become high if the low lying community to the west of the town does not respond to flood warnings as the available high ground is only accessible by Yamba Road, which is readily cut by floodwaters. The only road out of Yamba to the Pacific Highway is also inundated in the 10y ARI and greater flood events. [my yellow highlighting]

Ballina is another  coastal town on the Far North Coast. Its CBD is on the banks of the tidal Richmond River where it empties into the sea.

Sea level rise is something Ballina has been discussing for many years because for the Ballina community the evidence is right before residents’ eyes.

This was Tamar Street in the CBD in January 2018 showing saltwater intrusion at high tide.

Photograph supplied by @Captainturtle

Other Far North Coast towns and villages are also under threat of foreshore/beach erosion, wave overtopping and/or innundation, including Wooli, Belongil Beach and Clarkes Beach.

Friday, 6 July 2018

A CERTAIN RMS ASPHALT BATCHING PLANT: Open Letter to NSW Premier & Liberal MP for Willoughby, Gladys Berejiklian, as well as Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight & Nationals MP for Oxley, Melinda Pavey

Dear Premier Berejiklian and Minister Pavey,

Communities in the Clarence River estuary are concerned about an aspect of the NSW Government's current Pacific Highway construction planning.

Below are some of those concerns expressed to local newspaper The Daily Examiner with regard to a Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) plan to install a temporary asphalt batching plant at Woombah on the Clarence River flood plain.

The build is scheduled to start this month and the plant will operate for the next two and a half years.

Please note the attitude – local residents are not amused at the high-handed way in which the NSW Government and RMS went about a cursory declaration of intent.

“What they’re not happy about is an asphalt batching plant being built right near their houses, using their only connecting road to the villages”

“We want the highway, and we want the asphalt plant to be somewhere, but we want it to be away from our communities where it won’t impact on our health and safety”

“The plant will add a reported 500 truck moments and 100 car movements per day at peak, or one every minute, and residents are concerned the additional traffic will create safety problems, and a bottleneck at their intersection, which they already describe as “tight” after it was temporarily re-routed. They also cite concerns over possible health affects the dust may cause for nearby residents.”

We have a resident as close as 450 metres from the plant who is suffering from lung cancer….Although Pacific Complete have been made aware of this, since they were first told they have failed to take action to acknowledge her.”

“We live within one kilometre of the plant and we found out two weeks ago by letterbox drop”

“We found out last Wednesday they didn’t tell anyone else. We’ve been around to other residents who are just outside the area and they had no idea the plant was coming at all.”

I also draw your attention to the content of emails coming out of Iluka:

Woombah is surrounded by World Heritage National Park. Within the waterways affected by run off from the proposed asphalt plant is the organic Solum Farm. Woombah Coffee will also be affected. Not to mention the multiple organic gardners who sell at the Yamba Markets and those who grow their own food.

The small community of Woombah and its neighbour Iluka are places that welcome tourists for the natural and clean beauty of the environment. An asphalt plant WILL threaten that. 

In addition, the Esk River at Woombah is fed by many of the creeks and waterways in the bushland where the asphalt plant is proposed. They will be adversely affected, which will flow into the Esk which will flow into the Clarence which will affect the fishing, oyster and prawn industries, on which many make their living. Not to mention the tourist industry that survives because our area offers a clean environment with unpolluted air and water.

This proposal is an outrage. Teven said NO. Woombah says NO as well.​”

“What about our kids on school buses with no seatbelts and the increase in traffic particularly trucks”

“Iluka Naturally, turn off at the asphalt plant, how ironic.”

For my own part I would add to these expressions of concern the fact that the 80ha, NPWS-managed Mororo Creek Nature Reserve is only est. 98 metres from the western end of the southern boundary of the proposed asphalt batching site. 

This protected land parcel is one of the reserves which form part of a forested corridor linking Bundjalung National Park to the east and the protected areas of the Richmond Range to the west. It lies within the boundaries of the Yaegl Local Aboriginal Land Council area, the Clarence Valley Local Government Area and the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

The Mororo Creek Reserve conserves areas of endangered swamp sclerophyll forest, coastal saltmarsh, subtropical coastal floodplain forest and swamp oak floodplain forest.

Most importantly, Mororo Creek and several of its tributaries which run through this reserve empty into the Clarence River Estuary less than est. 2km from the proposed asphalt batching site.

Now I have no idea why the NSW Government decided that a brief three-page information sheet and invitation to comment published online at was to be the limit of its community consultation effort or why a similar document was sent at short notice to such a small number of Woombah residents.

I don’t pretend to understand why the information sheet contained just one small image of a section of a Pillar Valley temporary asphalt batching plant with no description of typical batching plant infrastructure and no Woombah site layout plan at all, much less one to scale.

There was not a hint in the information sheet of the range of known issues which can arise during site construction, plant operation and site rehabilitation.

Those residents who were originally invited to comment were supplied with less than rudimentary information on which to assess the desirability of a batching plant on the designated site.

Given that the proposed Woombah asphalt batching plant site is est. 2 to 2.5kms as the crow flies from Clarence River estuary waters which:

(1) are covered by Yaegl Native Title;

(2) at certain points are covered by international treaties, including JAMBA, CAMBA, ROKAMBA;

(3) contain the second largest area of seagrass (83 ha), the largest area of mangroves (765 ha) and the third largest area of saltmarsh (290ha) in the northern rivers region [Williams et al 2006 in Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan 2010];

(4) are part of the largest combined river-ocean fishery in NSW containing high fisheries value marine species; and

(5) are a vital component of regional tourism, 

perhaps Premier Berejiklian and Minister Pavey can answer two vital questions.

1. Is the Woombah asphalt batching plant site above the 100 year flood level for the lower Clarence Valley flood plain?

Because if it is not, then the NSW Government’s cavalier attitude to flood risk management would potentially see toxic waste from asphalt batching flow into the Clarence River estuary during a flood event – including solid waste and any organic solvents/hydrocarbons captured in holding ponds for the life of the plant – along with any nearby excavated plant/road construction materials. After all, extreme flood event height predictions for that general area are 3.5 to 4.5 mAHD.

2. Why on earth was a decision made to site the asphalt batching plant and access road at a point along the Pacific Highway where it would cause the maximum damage to Iluka’s clean, green destination image and vital tourism trade?

When the NSW Government first mooted the Pacific Highway upgrade on the North Coast one of the advantages it canvassed was an increase in tourism numbers due to better road conditions.

Most of these visitors holidayed along the Clarence Coast and Iluka is a strong component of that coastal tourism.

If the NSW Government seriously believes that leaving Woombah-Iluka with only one safe, unimpeded access point for day, weekend and long-stay visitors, the Yamba to Iluka foot passenger only ferry, will not significantly affect tourism numbers over the course of two and a half years, one has to wonder if it bothered to investigate the issue at all before signing off on the proposed plant site.

The effect of siting the asphalt batching plant and access road on the designated site will in all likelihood have the effect of diminishing not growing tourism traffic to Iluka for a period beyond the years it actually takes to complete the Maclean to Devil’s Pulpit section of the highway upgrade, as visitor perception of a holiday area can change when industrial level activity becomes visually prominent.

When it comes to commitment to the community consultation process, the NSW Government obviously hasn’t insisted that Roads and Maritime Services live up to its undertaking to engage with communities to understand their needs and consider these when making decisions.

In fact, looking at satellite images of the site one cannot escape the suspicion that pre-construction ground preparation had already commenced before any information was sent out to selected Woombah residents.

Since news of the asphalt batching plan site reached the Lower Clarence and residents began to approach their local state member, there appears to have been a promise made to hold a "drop-in information session" at an unspecified date.

Having experienced NSW departmental drop-in information sessions, I am well aware that they are of limited value as purveyors of anything other that the meagre degree of information found in the aforementioned three page RMS document and, ineffectual as vehicles for genuine community consultation.

The people of Woombah and Iluka deserve better.  They deserve a formal information night which canvasses all the issues, with representatives from RMS and the Pacific Highway project team prepared to address concerns and answer questions, as well as representatives of both the Premier and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight in attendance as observers.

I’m sure that all residents and business owners in both Woombah and Iluka would appreciate both Premier and Minster taking the time to consider these questions and ensure government genuinely consults with both village communities before considering proceeding with any Roads and Maritime Servces site proposal.


Clarence  Girl

Friday, 19 May 2017

Clarence Valley NSW: a timely reminder as widespread rain again hits the Australian east coast

Australian Bureau of Meteorology probability forecast for 19 May 2017 as of 18 May here.

The Daily Examiner, 8 May 2017, p.3:
THE flood protection around Grafton is not as robust as many people believe warns a local emergency management specialist.
The Clarence Valley Council’s emergency management officer Kieran McAndrew said up-to-date modelling showed Grafton levees capable of withstanding a one in 25-year flood.
“Many people are under a misunderstanding the levees provide one in 100-year protection,” he said.
“They don’t. They were designed to provide that level of protection, but better modelling in the 50 years since they were constructed shows they only ever provided on one in 25-year protection…..
Mr McAndrew said recent major flooding in the Tweed and Richmond and moderate flooding in the Clarence had revealed the lack of understanding of flood protection in and around Grafton. He said there was a danger of complacency in the community……
“If there was a prolonged overtopping event in Grafton it would be much more serious than Lismore because in Lismore there are hills people can reach from the CBD. We don’t have that luxury in Grafton. And because of the volume of water in the Clarence, flood heights fall much more slowly. It means the city would be inundated for much longer.”
He said the Clarence Valley Council had applied to the NSW Government for a grant for a project to determine the floor heights of all properties in flood-prone areas around Grafton. The data would help residents understand the potential impact of a levee overtopping on their property.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Natural disaster relief announced for Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed local government areas

Six out of seven local government areas in the NSW Northern Rivers region have been declared natural disaster areas in the wake of flooding caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Australian Government, Disaster Assist, 31 March 2017:

North Coast Floods: from 28 March 2017

The joint Australian, state and territory governments' Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) provide a range of financial assistance to the natural disaster-declared areas in each state or territory.

For the floods which commenced on 28 March 2017, the available assistance measures include:

* personal hardship and distress assistance
* restoration of essential public assets
* counter disaster operations
* concessional loans for small businesses, primary producers and voluntary non-profit organisations
* freight subsidies for primary producers
* grants for voluntary non-profit organisations.

For information on available recovery assistance, visit the Emergency NSW website.

For further information on recovery arrangements, visit the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements page.

The above assistance may be available in the following local government areas

Richmond Valley

The Northern Star reported on 31 March 2017 that:

It's understood some adults will be eligible for payments of $1,000 each and children $400 each.

Images from the last few days which appeared in both mainstream and social media......

Photographs can be found at Google Images

Monday, 20 March 2017

Flood warnings still being ignored while intense storms over parts of the New South Wales north coast have flooded farmland and damaged crops

ABC News, 20 March 2017:

Intense storms over parts of the New South Wales north coast have flooded farmland and damaged crops.
The community of New Italy, near Woodburn, received almost half a metre of rain on Saturday alone, while Dorrigo had 430 millimetres over the weekend.
Woodburn State Emergency Service (SES) unit controller Jim McCormack, also a beef farmer in the district, said it had been more than 40 years since a rain event like this.
"The system just sat over the top of us for a number of hours and just belted us with everything it had," Mr McCormack said.
"It was so intense for that five or six hour period on Saturday morning, it caused all sorts of issues for our SES unit as well, but people are seeing water where they have never seen water for a long, long time."
Mr McCormack said a fall of 443 millimetres at New Italy resulted in water backing up in places that had not been flooded for years….

The State Emergency Service says warnings about staying out of flood waters are still being ignored by some.
There were several reports of children playing in flood waters across the Northern Rivers at the weekend.
The reports follow the death of an 11-year-old boy who was playing in a flooded park in Wollongong last week.
Clarence-Nambucca SES regional controller Caroline Ortel says people have been found in flood waters swimming, playing and paddling on surfboards.
"We have to ask them to move on and where they won't listen to the advice of our members, we're having to call the police in to ask them to move on," she said.
The Richmond-Tweed SES received 168 calls for help and carried out 15 flood rescues over the weekend.
Between #Yamba and #Macksville there were 337 call outs and 10 flood rescues, with the majority in the #CoffsHarbour and #Bellingen areas.
The SES says despite river levels dropping across the region some residents, mainly in the #CouttsCrossing and #Orara River areas, will remain isolated for the next few days.


9 News, 20 March 2017:

More than 4000 people remain isolated in northern NSW due to heavy rain, with wet weather forecast for much of the state during the week.

Eleven rivers in the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast regions have flooded, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) issuing severe thunderstorm warnings on Monday for those areas, along with the Central West Slopes and Plains, and Upper Western and Northern Tablelands.

Significant rainfall has eased in these areas but showers will persist this week due to a humid air mass hovering over the state.

The SES said on Monday about 4200 residents around the Clarence and Nambucca regions remain isolated, the majority of those around Iluka.

Since the wild weather began last week, the NSW State Emergency Service has responded to more than 3300 jobs - a concentrated number of those call-outs coming from Coffs Harbour, Gosford, Hornsby and Sydney's Hills area.

The SES has also carried out 85 flood rescues.

While the rain may have eased for Monday, the SES is warning NSW residents around swollen rivers, especially the Orara and Macintyre rivers, to take care.

"We're asking people not to be complacent with the fact these river systems are starting to drop, there's a lot of water around," SES spokeswoman Sue Pritchard told AAP on Monday said.