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Interview with Maranoa Mayor Robert Loughnan
Maranoa Mayor Robert Loughnan discusses his council's flood levee project, which has recently seen a key milestone with the beginning of its construction phase
Stage 1, which involves the construction of a 4.9km levee, house raising and other property-specific solutions, is designed to protect against a 1 in 1,000 year flood event.
Currently in draft form, Stage 2 of the Project consists of a number of mitigation measures including levee extension, diversion channels and local drainage improvements to further protect Roma residents from future flood events.
The levee project has been reviewed and advanced following each flood event impacting the community. How has this process changed or shaped the project?
Each flood event had different characteristics. The flood mitigation studies examined different levee alignments and assessed them against several criteria, for example, technical, economic, environmental and community to arrive at the best overall levee solution.
A number of community and individual consultation sessions have been undertaken so far in the Project.
As well as being the most effective route to protect the town, the final alignment for the Stage 1 levee was also the result of a number of revisions, which came from our community feedback sessions.
What are your expectations around insurance costs, and what advice would you give other councils looking at similar projects?
Feedback from the insurance companies has been that the construction of a flood levee will see insurance premiums drop because the risk of flooding to houses and commercial properties will be reduced.
My advice to other councils considering implementing flood mitigation measures is to proceed with the project to protect residents, businesses and infrastructure, rather than spend money on continued repair efforts following future flood events. It is important to adopt a long term view of flood mitigation investment and the security it provides to the community.
Based on a flood mitigation study, the project is broken up into two stages. Where are you at now and when would you be expecting Stage 2 to commence?
This week's sod turning marked the commencement of the Roma Flood Mitigation Project's Stage 1 design and construction of a 4.9km earthen levee embankment.
The draft proposal for Stage 2 of the Project consists of a number of mitigation measures including levee extension, diversion channels and local drainage improvements to further protect Roma residents from future flood events.
The draft has been modelled and costed and a report is scheduled to be presented to Council in for consideration in October 2013. We will then gather community feedback on the proposal.
How important was state and federal partnership and contribution to this project?
The contributions and continued partnerships between Council and the State and Federal governments are imperative for the roll-out of flood mitigation measures in Roma and affected communities across the Maranoa.
These partnerships have given us the opportunity to provide our residents and businesses in Roma with flood protection against a 1 in 1,000 year flood event – something that would have been extremely difficult if we had to do it alone.
Any final comment for other councils looking at similar measures?
Councils can not underestimate the importance of genuine engagement with their community regarding significant infrastructure proposals embedded in flood mitigation measures. Community feedback caused revisions to be made to our original levee alignment which provided a better overall solution without adding to project costs, or compromising the performance of the levee infrastructure.
My council is determined to implement a solution in Roma so we can move our efforts to identify the flood mitigation needs in Amby and Mitchell, which were hit hard in February 2012.