Tuesday, 11 January 2011

the Big Wet continues: Toowoomba gets flogged

And the people of Toowoomba cop a flogging it seems. The whole thing is dreadful, and its moving down the Lockyer and hitting Brisbane. So while the residents of Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley are picking up the pieces those of Brisbane are preparing for their turn.

Right now the engineers in SEQ Water will be making their best possible moves on preparing Lake Wivenhoe to receive as much flood water as it can while trying to protect those down stream from them as much as they can.

It will be a balancing act; made harder by the fact that capacity of Wivenhoe leading up to this has been held high. Not so long ago people were screaming to have more water in their dams and to keep it full. However its real design criteria was as a flood mitigation device rather than a water storage device.

Anyway, back in October I blogged about the big wet and back then I wrote; it does raise a more significant question:
what happens if we get the sort of rain we're having now in the strengths we've had in our peak wet seasons?

Well folks I think that the answer to that is "stock up on sand bags if you live in a low lying area" and "don't drive your car across flooded roads".

Well it seems we did get a continuation into December and now January.

Yesterday and into last night Toowoomba had rainfall which led to flash flooding ... major stuff as this fella captured on camera.



all one can say to that is "holy shit batman"

Toowoomba is on top of a range and at an elevation of between 600 and 700 meters above sea level, so (reasonably enough) it would appear to be the least likely area to cop a flood. Having lived in this area most of my life (or around 40 years) as well as traveled both intensively (doing delivery driving) and extensively I'm reasonably familiar with the area and have covered a few seasons of what happens here.

So naturally I was interested in just where this area is ... a bit of google searching (god bless them) and I am quite sure that it was here at west creek:


Moving onto that bridge there you can see that this is a drain channel ...

So its hardly surprising to see a torrent of water raging down it. The design and shape of it can only mean that the town planners expected to get some amount of water through here ... I'm betting however they didn't expect that much ... or they'd have dug it deeper. Its at the end of Herries St.

Data from the BOM indicates that it got quite substantial rainfall in the previous two days is pretty heavy, especially for them.

From the BOM site:

dataToowoomba

So on top of the background of drizzle since October they've had 206mm of rain in the last two days; delivered in 83mm first to prime the area then 123mm to just run off. As it happens (to make it perfect for flash flooding) they had most of their 123mm between 1:00pm and 2:00pm where nearly 70mm fell in one hour.

To put this into perspective, the rainfall stats for Toowoomba since 1887 are below. Its worth mentioning that few places in Australia have such extensive records as Toowoomba.

historicalDataToowoomba

As you can see that's about the "normal" rainfall for Toowoomba to get in all of January. Looking at the stats however it seems that the highest ever (for January) is still some amount away at 520mm. Something which stands out here (to me) is that the highest record for February is still much higher at 736mm ... oh my god ... seven hundred and thirty six millimeters.

So, can it get worse ... well it sure looks that way to me.

More interesting in the data is that the highest record was 1893, with 1974 being the peak for January the peak rainfall was not even in that year. I don't know the details for that month, perhaps it was averaged better ... perhaps it was 24mm every day for the month, but perhaps they had some days with much more than 12omm of rain in there.

In the past I've certainly seen stuff flood in Toowoomba myself ... and it seems that as recently as the 16th of December some flooding occurred there too.



which is in itself a little bit of a mystery ... as BOM records show very little rain at the Toowoomba station for the 16th ... perhaps it was the result of localized intense showers?? shrug

So what is my point here?

Well my point is two fold:
  1. while not common this sort of rainfall has precedent, in fact much worse rainfall would appear to be on record.
  2. failure to adequately anticipate and plan for this has made it worse
Lets go back to that drain again ... its marked at A on the diagram below. Now while Toowoomba is perched atop a ridge (at around 600 meters above sea level) and is mostly flat, it does have topography. In fact it is almost divided around a gully that runs down the middle of it

toowoombaCatchment

... so the water starts up there near Kearneys Spring and has an almost straight unimpeded run down a funnel channel (I've marked in red) right to where the first video shows the wild flooding.

No wonder it was raging there ...

Making it worse you can see another drainage area there to the left off to where Darling Heights is. Now, lets look at the aerial photography..

toowoombaCatchment-sat

Its amazingly solidly built up there in the middle isn't it. Something you may not know about is a concept in urban water planning called "the hardening of the urban surface". For example from this source:

In the future, most new developments will be built at densities higher than have occurred in the past. This will imply a greater concentration of terraced properties and flats. There will inevitably be a “hardening” of the urban landscape, potentially 70 dwellings per hectare, and hence a greater need to control run-off from rainfall events and the attendant increasing localized risk of flooding.

Essentially nearly 90% of water runs off urban areas and straight into storm water drains. Nearly none is soaked up in the ground and our concrete drainage systems increase the velocity with which it runs off (as you can see in the video) ... in fact if you take a toddle over to Wikipedia you can learn more about Urban Runoff here and perhaps apply that to your area.

So its not new stuff

Now, back in 1975 the population of Toowoomba was a mere 60,000 or so; while today it has grown to over double that. I'm sure back in Feb of 1983 there were far fewer living there, and in all probability those people would never have approved building where that big mass. Heck they'd probably shake their heads and call you "fool" for doing it.

So without a degree in Urban planning it seems as if the previous years of drought added to the notion that "everything is OK" and the ship is sailing fine.

Well looking around it doesn't seem to be to me.

So, what about the Future?

Well its hard to predict, but looking at the stats, the La Nina we are in and the weather satellite it would seem that we're in for more.

I've arranged the historical data (normally Jan to Dec) into a layout where the December of one year flows naturally into the January of the next (as it does naturally). This is the data from 1887 to the present ... so its quite a clump

toowoombaSeasonal

Its a bit of a mess in there but its pretty clear Dec, Jan and Feb are stand out months for high rainfall.

We've been breaking records so far ... perhaps we'll break some more? who knows

What I do know is we need to get away from the media hysterical view of this and start taking an analytical view. I'm sure planners already do, but increasingly the general public is making heavy demands on politcal parties to steer things the way they want them.

The public seems to be increasingly mis-trustful of "the experts", so as far as I can see the only way to go forward and avoid disaster and loss of life is to get the same people who are vocal about telling "we need more [insert dams | highways | cheaper houses]" to actually grasp what it may be they actually need and what it will cost.

I'm willing to bet its not more of the same "business as usual" in terms of development, land approvals and infrastructure.

stay safe, and don't cross flooded roads ... please



PS
The next day I came across this article in the Australian, written by a Toowoomba based journalist. Some of the comments are well worth reading. Some show education and insight while others show the same follow the leader head in the sand stuff which assists propaganda and stupidity to reign strong:

  • Rhys Posted at 1:04 AM January 12, 2011

    While this doesnt help the residents of flooded areas right this second, I can only hope that as a result of this that the QLD Govt will review its planning - and I am afraid that this would really need to start NOW. How hard this could be, if achievable at all, is mind bending. But the fact remains that this lesson should be learnt now, not in another 40 years. I have lost 2 friends already, and I dont think its fair to risk anymore. My thoughts are with all QLDers, and please know Australia's thoughts are with you too. In true form, we will be here when you need us.

    Comment 1 of 48

  • Phil of Brisbane Posted at 1:12 AM January 12, 2011

    Heather. Who exactly are you saying is at fault here? Until this unbelievable freak of nature is explained, I dont think that anyone can be blamed. Leave it alone, for now. We have to hook in and get through the physical and mental repair work that is by far the most important issue at the moment. I do catch your drift, but lets wait.

    Comment 2 of 48

  • Aaron Martin of Gold Coast Posted at 2:06 AM January 12, 2011

    Heather, your experience as a journalist is very clear here. Your message is spot on and well written. Why does it take a natural disaster of this magnitude to get people to listen?

    Comment 3 of 48

  • Jenny Stirling Posted at 2:32 AM January 12, 2011

    Heather you are exactly right and up and down the coast of Queensland the same tragedy has been repeated. Councils are building on flood plains from Cairns to Brisbane. Here in Townsville we have an accident waiting to happen with the Bohle Pains housing development. Sure they have installed wide drains that lead to the sea but these fill with rubbish and are not maintained and cleaned. We have to learn to live with this country and not against it. And engineered solutions are not always the way to go because they rely too heavily on the agendas of those who are building the 'solutions'- as the engineer in Toowoomba testifies.

    Comment 4 of 48

  • David W of North Carolina, Us ex Sydney, NSW Posted at 3:23 AM January 12, 2011

    Heather should write a book. The prose is very moving, what a great gift you have, something to touch the heart of our nation and our dreams and follies. We can afford to learn again.

    Comment 5 of 48

  • Tim Posted at 3:29 AM January 12, 2011

    It's a similar story with most new housing developments - all of them low houses built on slabs. They will be indundated to the roofline, while many Queenslander houses will survive with water below the floorboards. But the designs originate from down south and are aimed at mass production.

    Comment 6 of 48

  • PaxUs of Brisbane Posted at 3:48 AM January 12, 2011

    It isn't just Toowoomba Council that's to blame, it's the same story across board. No knowledge! No experience! Our historical culture and traditions, that embed in song, story and custom, lessons on how to survive, in this land of rugged, random hardship, have been all but decimated. Try reading the lyric to our National Anthem. The 'empty temples' of self worship & greed, between our 'leaders and planners' ears, no longer contain the sacred bible of knowledge, that is our historical heritage. They have forgotten that Australia is the land of the wild and untamed. Live here at your own peril. Drilling huge holes all over the State, filled with toxic chemicals, and their present 'mingling of waters', into our underground water and river systems, is another bonus, courtesy of our Corporate Government. 'We' didn't ignore anything, our Governments, Councils, Media, Economists, Developers, Mining Corporations and their Advisers did.

    Comment 7 of 48

  • Martin of WA Posted at 4:27 AM January 12, 2011

    This is pessimistic. If you build cities and towns on flood plains you will experience flood. Pray for the dead. These great cities and towns will rebuild themselves.

    Comment 8 of 48

  • janama Posted at 5:33 AM January 12, 2011

    Thank you Heather for not mentioning climate change :)

    Comment 9 of 48

  • Sad. of Toongabbie Posted at 5:39 AM January 12, 2011

    Congratulations Heather. Your article made more sense than any other I have read on this disaster. You struck straight to the bone, peeling off all the meat that others have laboured to write about. Possible 30 million has been spent on a little creek near where I live. I hope the planners have got it right.

    Comment 10 of 48

  • S of NT of Darwin Posted at 5:46 AM January 12, 2011

    well said..

    Comment 11 of 48

  • Rosemary of Queensland Posted at 6:09 AM January 12, 2011

    I am a Queenslander born and bred and like many others of my generation, experienced the '74 floods. I've seen many new houses built on land that should never been built on, including low-set houses flat on concrete slabs. Queensland houses were built high on stumps for good reasons - for airflow, for catching cooling breezes, and to help mitigate flood damage. Of course if the flood is epic, then even these will eventually go under, but at least you have a fighting chance the rest of the time. Hard lessons should be learnt from this event - of building more dams, of looking for ways to build and relocate roads, rail and bridges so that during an old fashioned wet-season transport doesn't grind to a halt - and of stricter building codes in areas that are known for flooding, or are near creeks and rivers. Above all, lessons should be learnt by Governments at all levels - about the priority of where taxpayer money should be spent. Not on vague, popularist thought bubbles like the NBN or ceiling insulation, but on hard, prosaic, pragmatic infrastructure that might not win votes, but would help Australia survive the more extremes of this drought and flooding-rains country of ours.

    Comment 12 of 48

  • John Good Posted at 6:25 AM January 12, 2011

    Yes Yes Yes !! We are surrounded by fools who won't listen because "they went to university and are fully qualified", it is the same with the bushfire debate and fuel reduction. Those that know and have seen the awesome force of nature live with the fact every day that at some point what they have warned people about will come true and sadly so many times it does.

    Comment 13 of 48

  • phill Parsons of bilgola Posted at 6:29 AM January 12, 2011

    Expecting urban planning lessons to be learnt and implemented between rare events to take into account those events is a big ask. However, an event like this one should get a lesson learnt until the community forgets, which it usually does. Canberra apparently learnt as did the Victoria. I hope Queensland will follow suit as much as it can given the huge cost of rebuilding will inhibit replacemnt of inadequate infrastructure, if there is an adequate system for such an event. My sympathies to the victimns.

    Comment 14 of 48

  • Mike McMullen Posted at 6:50 AM January 12, 2011

    I hope the Engineer mentioned has the luxury of feeling vindicated despite being pushed out of his job as a result of his commitment to standards as opposed to guilt about death and destruction as a result of backing down from them. I do not envy him in either case.

    Comment 15 of 48

  • King O'Malley of Castle Cove Posted at 6:50 AM January 12, 2011

    The day when we put architects, consultants and town planners whims ahead of the advice of engineers and hydrologists is akin to putting children in charge of the playground. Like global warming hysteria, we need to grow up, apply some common sense and put the adults back in charge again.

    Comment 16 of 48

  • NevilleW Posted at 6:51 AM January 12, 2011

    Thank you Heather, sitting down here in a safe high ground in Victoria, I wondered how the torrent of water could be unexpected and so catching people unawares when the water from the north had to go somewhere, you may have put a piece of the puzzle in place for me.

    Comment 17 of 48

  • Jimboh of NTH Qld Posted at 7:14 AM January 12, 2011

    Onya Heather, The mind boggles sometimes when the so called expert professionals don't listen, when all it takes sometimes is to listen to the ordinary people who occasionally come up with good idea's. I wonder if the Pollies would take this on board

    Comment 18 of 48

  • Wal of Winton Posted at 7:18 AM January 12, 2011

    OK, Heather, you were smart. I spent seven years at boarding school in Toowoomba in the fifties (very wet years you may remember) and there was nothing of the magnitude of this. Those two little creeks that run through the centre of Toowoomba seldom had enough water in them to wet your socks. The message really is that you cannot plan for extreme weather events and that cities and heavy rain don't mix.

    Comment 19 of 48

  • Markus of New Farm Posted at 7:21 AM January 12, 2011

    How would larger pipes have helped mitigate the disaster we saw in Toowoomba?Why don't we wiat for the considererd expert findings post this disaster instead of airing the opinions of a journalist during this time of sorrow for so many people.

    Comment 20 of 48

  • Stephen Morgan of Runcorn Posted at 7:25 AM January 12, 2011

    Exactly - and we did all this illogical building because we think we're above nature. The damage in Brisbane will be exacerbated because we thought that the dam would prevent 1974-style flooding...and we've built acordingly. Dams won't stop floods, that's clear. All they seem to do is stop people thinking about floods, which in some ways makes them more of a danger than a blessing. But let's not blame the dams nor praise them - they didn't make the decisions...we did!

    Comment 21 of 48

  • Judi of Adelaide Posted at 7:30 AM January 12, 2011

    And Toowoomba isn't the only place that has done that. I know Adelaide doesn't always get heavy downpours, but every time it does, I know I (& a lot of others) curse the planners who use small gutters & pipes & allow building on floodplains. I'm "lucky" in that I live on the gentle slope of a hill - not at the bottom where it floods, & not enough of a slope for there to be a real danger of things like mudlsides, but I watch the water build up at the bottom of the street & through nearby streets & see people's houses get inundated. And during summer I look at all those houses with no eaves or verandahs, with huge aircons running full blast 24/7 & wonder what idiot decided that the Australian landscape could do with European designed buildings around the place. Our town planners, designers, developers, etc need to start taking our landscape into account. As QLD is currently proving, beautiful one day doesn't necessarily mean safe & beautiful tomorrow. It's going to take a lot of work to clean QLD up, but unfortunately I don't think that means lessons will be learnt, by QLD or by anywhere else in Australia. My thoughts are with you all.

    Comment 22 of 48

  • jack Posted at 7:34 AM January 12, 2011

    Absolutely spot on.We are doing the same thing in the south. Building houses thatbear no relationship to the climate. No energy considerations and no demands from Councils or Governments that these be taken into consideration.As with Queensland, their wonderful architecture ignored. Lets hope this is altered now.

    Comment 23 of 48

  • Jack Horton of Cunnamulla Posted at 8:04 AM January 12, 2011

    Sad but true; all town-planners should have a framed copy of the poem 'My Country' to remind them of the sudden contrasts nature can inflict on 'the wide brown land' - likewise should the many farmers who may not have come to terms with the land they farm - likewise the coastal communities & occupants of riverside mansions - these moods of nature are not new to us; we frequently incur cyclones, droughts, bushfires & floods - we may not ever know all the answers but we can certainly improve; despite all this, the Qld Govt, the BCC, the ICC, the RCC, the police, SES, army, navy, Red Cross, Salvos & ordinary volunteers demonstrate great fortitude in the face of the current adversity - they are to be recognised & applauded and rewarded by better town-planning & engineering as an integral outcome of this unfolding disaster.

    Comment 24 of 48

  • lmwd of Qld Posted at 8:13 AM January 12, 2011

    Great article, along with the article looking at the history of Australian weather events. This is where we went wrong. By not understanding history, we are doomed for a repeat of disasters. Each event should be a learning Ă¢?? where to build and where not to and how to prepare for inevitable climate events. People seem to have this delusion that this event is something unprecedented, never happened before. Yes, this event may be the worst in our living memory, but the archives are full of information predicting such events. Take the BOM report written after the 74 flood. It compared that event to the 1893 flood, which saw peaks in Brisbane of over 9m and they warned that such a big event could happen again. It is why Wivenhoe Dam was built. If we want to know our future, we only need to look at our past, and that should be guiding our decisions. Instead our money and attention has been directed towards chasing hypothetical futures and this has left us ill-prepared for the return to the past.

    Comment 25 of 48

  • Gemini of brisbane Posted at 8:39 AM January 12, 2011

    dear heather,i enjoyed reading your article. a refreshing style, and you have a good gift of writing. i am an engineer and sadly agree with your summation. because of the green movement, they will not build any dams, and as for re-cycled water, they dare not ask the engineers; they asked the scientists for an opinion and answers, who are busting to try anything and who don't have to stare down the threat of litigation everyday.

    Comment 26 of 48

  • Brian of Longreach, Qld. Posted at 8:44 AM January 12, 2011

    I'm no engineering genius but I take note of all the old-timers when they criticise the works around the west proposed by city-based engineers and public servants.I've seen weirs washed away after they have been hit by the first fresh down the river, a highway which acted as a dam and flooded parts of the town that had never been flooded before.The old-timers said it would happen but the city experts said there would never be a problem.Thank you, Heather, for pointing it out.

    Comment 27 of 48

  • Dr B S Goh of Australian in Asia Posted at 8:46 AM January 12, 2011

    It is a poignant article. May the souls of all who lost their lives rest in peace. Let us as Australians do better in managing our cities.

    Comment 28 of 48

  • Ben of Sydney Posted at 8:51 AM January 12, 2011

    One again, "those who do not take heed to the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it's mistakes"...

    Comment 29 of 48

  • denniscav of U.S.A. Posted at 8:53 AM January 12, 2011

    A major lesson we should learn from this disaster in Australia, is that nature is still in charge, and it is we who must learn, and change our habits and behaviors, which include, modifying our arrogant attitudes aimed at, or resulting in, conquering or subduing natural forces.

    Comment 30 of 48

  • Stephen Jones of Byron Bay Posted at 8:56 AM January 12, 2011

    The arrogance of mankind plays out in scenes small and large as the world's weather systems assert their eminence simultaneously in Australia, Europe and the USA...

    Comment 31 of 48

  • Paul Curson Posted at 9:00 AM January 12, 2011

    And global warming means these occasional extreme events will get worse.

    Comment 32 of 48

  • Mark of Melbourne Posted at 9:22 AM January 12, 2011

    I would hope that after these problems that a detailed flood plain map is drawn up for all Australians, with clear labels such as DO NOT BUILD HERE / HIGH RISK / MEDIUM RISK It may be that river systems have to be given the flood plain respect and that many towns and cities are reshaped to suit. I would think that ANY insurance company would force these changes by not providing insurance or making it very expensive for properties rebuilt in these areas.

    Comment 33 of 48

  • Mark of Melbourne Posted at 9:23 AM January 12, 2011

    Personally I dont expect the Labor government to sort out these issues with land owners and developers and councils who provide building approvals and make up the rules. Perhaps councils who have given approvals to build in these areas should be held personally responsible and it might prevent some of the greed in the system. I hope that those affected will carry on in good heart but realise that the system needs radical change otherwise it will happen again and again. THe only time it is likely to change is directly after a tradegy when the politicains cannot avoid the issue as it is fresh and raw in eveyones mind. Pity Labor is technically in charge though as progress or lasting results are words I would use to describe that particular party, expect lots of words and gestures but no real action and then vote accordingly, as happened in Victoria recently.

    Comment 34 of 48

  • Milly Molly Posted at 9:27 AM January 12, 2011

    Best explanation of this terrible event in Toowoomba I have read so far.Had me puzzled as the water looked as if it came from a broken dam or catchment. However building recreation areas near the river with not enough drainage to allow the water to run off quickly would also have caused such a problem. Appreciate the article.Sadly I also think that Queensland's cycle of long years of drought broken by massive flooding events (which are documented from the 1890s onwards) seems to have been dismissed as unimportant in our planning for towns and water management. Just because there is a long time lapse between such events doesn't mean they won't happen again...they will.

    Comment 35 of 48

  • peter hindrup of bondi junction Posted at 9:36 AM January 12, 2011

    A thoughtful observation by person who absorbed the reality of the unrestrained and unrestrainable power of the elements. City born people do no know and cannot know the immensity of the event which from time to time we will be confronted and some who have had the chance to observe, choose to forget.People are comforted by the 'once in a hundred years' tag placed upon many natural events. We are being reminded that such tags are meaningless, meaningless and offer false comfort.With more extreme weather occurring more often being predicted the rational approach is to begin a reappraisal of past practices and to begin the changes needed to manage the new reality, but there is not a chance that it will happen.( I grew up in Gisborne, NZ, which flooded regularly before the massive flood mitigation works were carried out.)

    Comment 36 of 48

  • Jane in Brisbane of Brisbane Posted at 9:39 AM January 12, 2011

    Beautifully written - and very accurate.

    Comment 37 of 48

  • Manorina of Queensland Posted at 9:43 AM January 12, 2011

    The type of cloudburst event which occurred on Monday in Toowoomba is rare but when they hit urban areas they are particularly destructive.This is because all rain that falls on a hardened surface like roofs and roads runs off and overwhelms storm water drainage.Apart from removing existing habitations and preventing further building near drainage lines there is not much that can be done.It is inevitable that streets will become drainage lines in extreme scenarios.Given the past record of local,state and federal governments in allowing developer greed to hold sway I don't give much chance for even the prohibition of future flood plain development let alone a managed retreat from these areas.

    Comment 38 of 48

  • Andrew of Ipswich Posted at 9:54 AM January 12, 2011

    Heads should roll that good engineering advice has cost many lives and damaged so much property. Form should follow function. There is no point in having a pretty landscape if it can't deal with the reasonably predictable flood flows

    Comment 39 of 48

  • Sylvia M. Murray of Perth Posted at 2:49 PM January 12, 2011

    I wonder about the cutting down of forests in the history of "the flooding plains" of Dorothy McKeller. What has been established about flooding rivers prior to white settlement? Sylvia Murray

    Comment 40 of 48

  • Sunnysandgroper of WA Posted at 3:11 PM January 12, 2011

    Good luck over there.As with all things where good advice was overlooked for bad I hope that some of the votes received, promotions given and contracts awarded are closely scrutinised now. Perhaps redress by reversing the promotion for the planner promoting low height developments in low lying areas and giving a gee up to the hydrologist/engineer sitting in the back-office? Fat-chance, this is Australia in 2011, the dollar rules as do the ruling majorities. The rest of us can go suck eggs.

    Comment 41 of 48

  • Engineer in the maze Posted at 3:42 PM January 12, 2011

    Welcome to the world of 'Modern Engineering'....attempting to satisfy the beanies and somehow maintain engineering integrity. It gets worse when the rate/tax payers money is spent by politicians on 'community projects' this normally means vote buying or believing the results from a survey of 100 people. Somehow I do not think this game is going to change...imagine if your local councillers were not allowed to override an engineering judgement, engineering would then also become political.

    Comment 42 of 48

  • Cyclophile of Sunny Melbourne Posted at 3:48 PM January 12, 2011

    Excellent article, although it is yet to be established whether the 18-footers would have prevented, or mitigated, the disaster. But I do like the general thesis, that more regard should be had to environmental factors and to expert (in this case, engineering) advice, and less to the whims of developers and architects. Very much a Green perspective!

    Comment 43 of 48

  • skydrake3 of Toowoomba Posted at 3:51 PM January 12, 2011

    Very true! We came to live in Twmba 6 years ago, following a couple of visits to this pleasant town. When you drive out of Twmba to the West, North and South you mostly see tree denuded of trees, leaving only naked earth; in dry season covered by dead grass, now green. It is a smooth land, with no places for water to accumulate, stay and sink in. The Kearney springs are still within the city perimeter and I understand that only some 15 years ago there was still a spring, bringing out fresh water...Now all is levelled out, leaving a few shallow scenic ponds...but these are not meant as buffer to hold water and prevent flooding somewhere further down, and in fact the city smart hydro engineers have created smoothly betoned out: a real highways for the water to run through. The pleasant lunch-break basin between the library and Grand Central is shallow and fills fast with the deposited soil and it does not serve water in any way, only our -foolish- aesthetics. No wonder that the accelerated water has created major havoc particularly here and at the end of that concrete highway in Russell str. Not far from the railway stationĂ¢?¦The Eastern creek has been put into a straight jacket too...

    Comment 44 of 48

  • Rodger of Scarborough, Qld Posted at 3:54 PM January 12, 2011

    Heather's article is a well written and honest observation, so it seems from reading it, and I would agree, too much of our constructions in this country ignore the fact that this is Australia, I extend this to the whole of the nation as I have only minutes ago seen Flood pictures from another part of our country Photo's taken this morning, while the Floods down in Victoria are not to the scale we are seeing in here in Queensland, it does along with the Bush Fires in WA highlight the fact that this Country of ours is a Beautiful, Heartless and Deadly landscape, housing not only many of the most poisonous spiders and Snakes, but a harsh and unforgiving weather system, when will we learn that we cannot recreate European and Chinese architecture or make Modern Art designs out of towns, without placing ourselves and our children at great risk? we have the knowledge and technology to limit the damage of Australia harsh environment, we just refuse to use it

    Comment 45 of 48

  • Bec Posted at 3:55 PM January 12, 2011

    The paddocks surrounding my old highschool used to flood considerably every couple of years, as did the school grounds themselves - there are now 2 new, large satellite downs on those same grounds. How many of those people - whose houses will inevitably flood - knew of this? I would say none of them - unless they had local knowledge of the area. It's sad how money overtakes human safety.

    Comment 46 of 48

  • Bill Posted at 3:59 PM January 12, 2011

    A city which rejected re-cycled water; a city which rejected good engineering.Stick to good planning and good science.

    Comment 47 of 48

  • John W Jenks of Brisbane Posted at 4:04 PM January 12, 2011

    Very well written. It is a pity that these things happen which they do every 20 to 30 years and that may be the reasons we forget these things do happen. The really sad part is that although we may not know what the results would have been if these developments had not been done, developers do things to make money and often greed and dare I say coruption occurs to get the end results that also result in inocent people suffering. We build unsuitable buildings in flood prone and bushfire prone areas and we don't seem to learn by the dissasters that occur.

    Comment 48 of 48


6 comments:

Noons said...

Good points. One of the things that attracted us to the area we're in now was precisely the good planning around the "urban hardening".
There are huge underground collection ducts and a rainwater deposit area right behind our place, with runoff directed to the Warriewood wetlands park. In case of overflow, it goes directly where it used to go: Narrabeen lagoon. Otherwise, it deposits solids in the rainwater deposit area -council cleans it up once a year - and then flows normally into the wetlands.

Works a treat but it's the only one like this I've seen in Sydney...

Was looking at your map and just realized that Blunder Ck in Durack has a similar drain channel that goes 100 yards downhill from our place there!

Now, where was that insurance policy again...

Andrew said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog about Wivenhoe. A few guys at work today were discussing the Toowoomba situation, suggesting development in the past 15 years has reflected the drought conditions and, despite urging to take into account extreme rain conditions, it has been largely ignored.

Funny thing is I was in Toowoomba on Friday 7th and it seemed to be raining a lot, and that channel was lapping its banks. I'm staggered to see only 17mm was recorded that day - it seemed like a lot more. I'd hate to think what 123mm looked like.

One of the funniest bogan comments I've seen in recent days was that Garrett stuffed up by not allowing Traveston to be built as it would have saved Brisbane. I'm not sure what the Mary River has to do with Brisbane's woes, nor do I think it possible to whip up a dam in 12 months .........

obakesan said...

Andrew

thanks for your comments. For those who may be interested the article on Wivenhoe was here:

http://andrewgrant.me/2011/01/11/the-false-security-of-the-wivenhoe-safety-blanket/

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