Flood mitigation: let funding flow
By EMMA CORNFORD
THE Clarence Valley Council's floodplain management office needs more staff and funding.
A call for a top-up has come from Clarence Valley councillor Kerry Lloyd, fresh from the 46th annual floodplain management conference in Lismore. He is preparing a report for council.
"Flooding affects 70per cent of our constituents ... so I think it's something we need to look at," he said yesterday.
"Given the size of our catchment I think we need to provide another flood engineer and support staff because there's so much work involved in studies and other flood mitigation work.
"I'm not saying that we're not spending enough as a council, not at all, I'm very happy with what we're doing, but we need a level of staff that can maintain an acceptable level of service."
Floodplain Services executive manager Ian Dinham was also at the conference and although he would not comment on Cr Lloyd's call for more floodplain services staff, saying it was a 'matter for council', he did stress the importance of flood funding.
"We have the largest coastal catchment in NSW ... and most of our population lives on the floodplain, so it is definitely an issue that needs to be given priority."
At the conference, Cr Lloyd put forward a motion that the Flood Mitigation Authority of NSW lobby the State and Federal Governments for increased funding, and reinstate the system, where the federal and state governments contribute $2 each to every council dollar spent.
Mr Dinham agreed, saying rural councils around the state were under enormous pressure to fund flood works.
He also criticised the amount of Commonwealth funds which go into fixing flood damage, rather than preventing destruction.
"There's a ridiculous situation at the moment where the Commonwealth is spending an average of $300million a year on fixing damage, whereas they're only putting $20million into work to prevent the damage in the first place," Mr Dinham said.
Cr Lloyd and Mr Dinham both said flood education was another factor which needed to be addressed, and praised the SES flood awareness workshop for businesses, which will run this morning at the Grafton Bowling Club.
"Absolutely, I think it's an excellent program," Cr Lloyd said.
"One of the other things I think we could do would be to provide education programs in schools ... because a lot of parents are going to take more notice of their children than council and then that information can be in the home. Hopefully that information would also stay with the kids as they grow up."