When Perception and Evidence Based Practice Collide - Floodplain and Waterway Management in the aftermath of the 2016 Floods at St Marys, Tasmania (#49)
St Marys is a small town near the east coast of Tasmania which experienced three significant flood events in 2016. The largest event occurred in January 2016 and resulted in extensive damage including above floor flooding to numerous dwellings. The event has been estimated to be larger than a 0.5% AEP (1 in 200 year ARI) event and also resulted in significant changes to the waterway through the township.
The St Marys Flood Risk Management Study was commissioned six months ago by Break O’Day Council and has since been completed by Water Technology in partnership with Council, the community of St Marys and a number of other key stakeholders. The study commenced in late September 2017 against a backdrop of strong public perception around the cause of flooding at St Marys and how it should be managed. Through extensive consultation, engagement and education the community and study team have come to better understand why the town floods, and the sort of flood risk management options that could be implemented which won’t adversely impact the town’s greatest natural asset – the St Marys Rivulet.
The study has almost concluded and has been a great success with a number of actions identified to improve flood risk that have the strong support of the community. While improving waterway management was not an objective of the study the community has also come to better understand riverine processes in the rivulet and as a community have committed to working together to maintain and improve the ongoing health of the waterway.