In 2017 Bega Valley Shire Council completed a Flood Study for Merimbula Lake and Back Lake. The study identified flood risks to people, property, infrastructure and assets. Council is now undertaking a Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan to look at various options to reduce the risks and damages caused by flooding.
The study includes the foreshore and low-lying areas near Merimbula and Back Lakes as well as the catchments draining to the lakes. Flooding in these areas can be cause by ocean storms, extreme tides and intense rainfall.
Historical flooding was identified by the community as part of the Flood Study, this included flooding observed in Merimbula CBD in September 2014, at Berrambool Oval in December 2014 and local creek flooding at Millingandi in February 2010. The foreshore areas of Merimbula Lake were also moderately impacted by the East Coast Low in 2016.
The preparation and implementation of Floodplain Risk Management Plans is the cornerstone of the NSW Government’s Floodplain Management Program that is delivered in accordance with the 2005 NSW Government Floodplain Development Manual. Management plans can eliminate the ad-hoc decision making process which has contributed too many present day flooding problems.
As part of this study, Council will work collaboratively with state Government, consultants and the community to assess options for managing flood risk such as protection works, improved infrastructure, revised emergency response procedures and planning controls. The Floodplain Risk Management Plan will recommend the most appropriate measures for implementation.
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the Minister of Police and Emergency Services are supporting Council by providing technical assistance and grant funding for the project.
Council was successful in securing a grant of $169,866.67 from the Office Environment and Heritage Floodplain Risk Management grant programme during late 2017. The grant programme provides funding at a ratio of 2 state dollars per Council dollar. Council under the terms of the grant funding agreement is required to provide a matching contribution of $84,933.33. The total funding available to support the project completion is $254,800.
Council at its meeting of 31st January 2018 resolved to accept the relevant grant offer.
The Merimbula and Back Lake Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan is an identified project in the 2017 – 2021 Delivery Plan to Identify and Complete Floodplain Risk Management projects.
The project addresses Outcome 5 Connected Communities Goal 10: We have a network of good quality roads, footpaths and cycleways connecting communities throughout the Shire and beyond from the Bega Valley Shire Community Strategic Plan 2040 – Working Towards our Future.
The community provided valuable input to the Flood Study through surveys (May 2015) and drop-in sessions (September 2016). This information was used to ensure the flood study models produced results that were consistent with community observations.
The Council requested community input again in December 2018 to look at ways to manage the flooding problems identified in the Flood Study. Information was sent out to residents and property owners within the study area, this same information was also available on Council’s website where an online feedback survey could be completed. Council also held drop-in information sessions for the on 6 and 7 December 2018.
Council received nine survey responses providing details of known flooding problems and suggestions for managing flood risk. Approximately ten people attended the drop-in sessions and had a chat to the project team about the details of the project and their thoughts on flood risk management in the local area.
The community will be asked to provide their feedback and input once again when the draft Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan is put on public exhibition. This is expected to be in 2020.