Huge downpours, flooding predicted as climate changes

AUTHORITIES are ready to tackle predicted flash floods across the Gladstone region.

Civil engineering experts say it is time to act after new research analysing three decades of weather patterns revealed rising temperatures could bring massive downpours and destructive flooding to the district.

The dire prediction suggests storm-driven peak rainfall patterns will intensify as the Gladstone region gets hotter.

>> Residents need to be prepared before disasters hit

University of New South Wales researcher Professor Ashish Sharma said every Australian town and city was at risk.

"It means that most people in Australia can expect to see intensification in the magnitude of flash flooding in smaller catchments, particularly in urban or residential areas," he said.

Prof Sharma and his School of Civil and Environmental Engineering colleagues based their findings on 30 years of data collected at 79 weather stations across the country.

Stations monitored included those at Maryborough, Longreach, Kingaroy, Oakey, Rockhampton, Amberley, Gympie and Mackay.

"We have linked increased temperatures to less uniform rain patterns within storms," lead researcher Conrad Wasko said.

"This suggests that more rainfall will be dumped over a shorter duration."

Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers said the council was concerned about the impact of global warming.

"Predicted water level increases due to global warming are considerations for the council," Cr Sellers said.

"This is not just within the disaster co-ordination area, but in planning with the draft regional planning scheme and road infrastructure planning."

What it takes to keep us safe

PROTECTING our region from destructive flooding is not easy.

With a territory covering 10,000sq km and major waterways including Baffle Creek, the Calliope and Boyne rivers and Lake Awoonga, the Gladstone Regional Council has its hands full keeping the district flood-safe.

The region's flood damage bill climbed to $130 million over the past five years thanks to storms such as Tropical Cyclone Marcia that hit in February of this year.

Areas at risk of flooding include Boyne Valley, the Raglan and Ambrose West areas, Baffle Creek, Lowmead, Rosedale, Agnes Water and Miriam Vale.

The council's draft planning scheme takes into account recent flood studies and modelling to ensure new developments meet strict height criteria based on predicted water levels.

The council has spent $1 million on improving disaster warning and camera networks and community education.

There are four water level monitoring cameras to ensure authorities and residents can always know how what flood levels are.

The council is also trying out automated boom gates in Miriam Vale and Boyne Valley to stop vehicles accessing the flood-prone roads.

Condition reports on the council's website are constantly updated, and the SES gets vital funding from the council to activate and manage the regional emergency centre when disaster strikes.

- APN NEWSDESK



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