Aerial of Carnarvon, Western Australia

The Western Australian Government has accepted all 27 recommendations from the Carnarvon Floodplain Management Working Group Report and secured an additional $1.9 million in federal funding for flood recovery efforts.

The report was prepared in response to periodic widespread flooding of the Gascoyne River Flood plain in Carnarvon, after the February 2021 event inundated a number of properties in the production area causing soil erosion and crop losses.

The recommendations cross five themes: a structure for a long-term, co-ordinated, strategic approach to flood management; planning and mapping; waterways management; improved soil conservation and land management practices; and improved waste management.

Western Australian Agriculture and Food Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, said the State Government is committed to working with growers and the Shire of Carnarvon to support appropriate land management practices to reduce the risk of flooding and optimise the value of production in the irrigation district.

“Mitigating the effects of flooding is a responsibility we all share and is best managed at the local level,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“We encourage all Carnarvon horticulture growers, industry stakeholders and community members to get involved in the implementation of the Carnarvon Floodplain Management Working Group Report recommendations.

“Together we can achieve the vision for a flood resilient community, in which businesses, government agencies and Traditional Owners work together to better manage the risk and strengthen resilience of the local economy, infrastructure and the environment.”

In response to the report, the Western Australian Government is appointing a dedicated extension officer to assist growers to adopt best practice measures to reduce the threat of future flooding.

The Government will install ten visual gauge boards along the river to help growers, the Shire and government departments to observe local river levels, aid land management preparedness and decision-making.

It will also support a Working Group Report priority to improve waste management and recycling practices in the irrigation district to facilitate the free flow of water during peak river flow periods through an audit and engagement program.

In addition to the $1 million election commitment to support Carnarvon flood recovery, the Western Australian Government has worked with the Shire of Carnarvon and growers to secure an additional $1.9 million in federal funding to upgrade infrastructure and improve floodplain management.

The funds will expedite a detailed survey of the floodplain to be incorporated with changes to catchment and floodplain management over the past 20 years to produce an updated model to better understand flood behaviour and assess the potential impacts of climate change.

The updated survey and model results will improve the ability of the local emergency managers and community to appropriately plan and respond to future flood events, as well as inform engineering solutions that may be considered in the future.

The Carnarvon Irrigation District plays an important role in providing quality fresh produce to the domestic market such as tomatoes, capsicums, sweet corn, mangoes, asparagus, melons, bananas, herbs and chillies, worth up to $100 million per annum.

Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “In order to improve our ability to plan for and respond to future flood events, we need to better understand the impacts of climate change and the changes that have occurred within the floodplain over the last two decades.

“The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation will assist the Shire of Carnarvon in delivering a new survey of the river and floodplain and updated flood modelling, to help guide land use planning and improve community flood preparedness.”

The report and Government response are available here.

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