My recent post Will We Be Next? #2: Darwin Cyclone Carlos, also looked at how we prepare, in particular our cities, for water disasters such as the recent and current floods and cyclones.
Amelia Young, a Healthy Rivers campaigner at Environment Victoria is adamant that one of the solutions is not more dams:
As floodwaters have flowed across eastern Australia this summer, they’ve been followed by a flood of calls for the construction of more, or bigger dams and water storage capacity. …new dams will compound the damage already done to river systems, just when we need to be strengthening the resilience of our natural environment to withstand greater climatic extremes. The simple truth is that for too long we’ve taken out too much water from our rivers. To restore our rivers to health, the new national plan must set aside a fair share of available water for our rivers, in both wet and dry years.
Chas Keys is a flood management researcher and consultant and an Honorary Associate of Risk Frontiers. His piece at Online Opinion is practical and down to earth.
The anxiety is over, and the question is about what we should do now. After five months of repetitive flooding in all states and territories, with probably over 40 deaths and unprecedented damage, we should develop a strategy to manage future floods.
His 12-point plan is detailed. I have expanded only one of these.
Here are twelve guiding points.
Flood management: a 12-point plan for Australia
- Stop seeing floods as enemies to be overpowered, and adapt to flooding.
- Recognise that there is no simple panacea.
- Ensure our institutions pull in the same direction.
- Remove development from the worst areas.
- Avoid the gradual intensification of community vulnerability to floods.
- Map the floodplains and make the information available.
- Help people to utilise flood warnings in their own interests.
- Create reminders of flooding, especially in flash flood environments.
- Spend on mitigation to save on relief.
- Stop talking down the threat.
Floods cost more in dollar terms than any other natural hazard, but developers, real estate interests and councillors often minimise the threat and create a climate for further inappropriate development, more cost and more distress. Flood education is sometimes opposed, and business interests sometimes object to flood warning because they perceive a short-term negative impact on economic transactions.
- Build public safety considerations into land development processes.
- Where building on floodplains is unavoidable, build in a flood-compatible way.
Its focus is Australia, but his ideas have much wider currency.
Please visit the Monash University's Centre for Water Sensitive Cities. whose aim is to 'to transform cities and their communities in ways that will help them to live in harmony with natural water environments' for more ideas.