Extent of weekend flooding may have been avoided


 Neglect of Canberra’s essential stormwater assets may have exacerbated the damage caused in yesterday’s flood, Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder said today.

Last month, the Canberra Liberals raised concerns with the government’s failure to maintain Canberra’s essential stormwater assets following an Auditor-General’s report on the issue.

The report, Acceptance of Stormwater Assets, found that:

  • Flood risk mitigation work is not being undertaken, despite known risks;

  • Some stormwater infrastructure cannot cope with major rain events;

  • The government has no plans to review stormwater infrastructure; and

  • In-fill development is increasing the risk of flooding but the government is not taking action.

The Auditor-General’s report also said that established areas of Canberra had not been reassessed since development, “despite the fact that there is known flood risk in some locations” (p79, 4.94). It also noted that:

“There is an increased risk because the stormwater infrastructure in many established areas of Canberra will be unable to cope with major rain events. This is because the stormwater network has not been augmented to help manage increased or more concentrated flows from:

  • In-fill developments, such as multi-unit high rise developments (p80, 4.96)

“There are no scheduled reviews of the condition of the stormwater infrastructure in established areas.” (p82, 4.101) and that;

Where flooding occurs because of a failure of the part of the Government to augment the stormwater infrastructure to help manage increased flows as a result of developments approved by the Government, there is an increased risk of claims for compensation from people whose properties have been flooded.” (p.81, 4.110)

Quotes from Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder:

“My thoughts go out to all Canberrans who are cleaning up the mess caused in yesterday’s flood.

“The event showed us the devastating effects of the government’s inaction.

“While not as flashy as light rail and shiny laptops, maintaining stormwater assets is a vital, taxpayer funded service that the Labor-Greens government has neglected. 

“I have requested an urgent briefing from Minister Fitzharris to ensure this is an isolated event.”


Media contact Deborah Seccombe:

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