Normanby bridge water receding in Gympie during the floods.
Normanby bridge water receding in Gympie during the floods. Renee Pilcher

First steps to a city flood-free

GYMPIE Regional Council adopted the recommendations of the Aurecon flood mitigation study yesterday, despite some dissent surrounding the fairness and safety of a $22.7 million levee to protect the CBD.

A flood-proof bridge connecting Gympie with the Southside also looks likely to gain traction, after comments from several councillors that, even though a "superstructure" across the Mary River would be a Main Roads project, getting it on the State Government agenda would be money well spent.

There was only one vote against adopting the report, and that came from Cr Ian Petersen, who said the figures surrounding the levee's cost were "fairly rubbery" and it was not fair to ask flood-affected farmers and business people from the One Mile and Two Mile to pick up the tab for interest payments on a levee that would not help them.

He said CBD businesses that will directly benefit from the levee should be asked to contribute to its cost, and that he had spoken with some businesses who had agreed to do this.

Cr Larry Friske said he would support the levee at this stage, but that if further investigation proved it would cost more than $22.7 million, he would change his vote.

"If the cost rises I believe that money would be better put towards a high-level bridge to the Southside," he said.

Cr Wayne Sachs' main concern was the safety of the levee and the implications of the mineshafts.

"In previous floods there has never been a fatality in the CBD because they come up fairly slowly and we are prepared for them," he said.

"How secure are these levees? Is there a chance it could fail? If it fails it will explode and the results would be obvious. It's a question I would like answered."

Cr Sachs has long advocated for a new, flood proof bridge over the Mary River and said that just driving across the Normanby Bridge revealed how damaged it was.

"It's only a matter of time... ," he said.

CEO Bernard Smith and director of engineering Bob Fredman reassured Cr Sachs the levee would be completely safe.

"We would not, as a profession, design it unless it was safe," Mr Fredman said.

Designing a flood levee was the same as designing other public infrastructure such as dams and bridges, Mr Fredman said.

Cr Mark McDonald said raising the Coondoo Creek Bridge on Tin Can Bay Rd was pointless.

The flood study says the best option at Coondoo Creek would be to raise the bridge 3m, at a cost of $3-5million.
Cr McDonald said that money would be better spent on a flood-proof bridge to the Southside.

"Once people cross Coondoo Creek Bridge, where are they going to go? Goomboorian? You can't get to Gympie if Coondoo Creek is over."

Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett said the decision on how to best improve the region's flood immunity was never meant to be easy, and adopting the report was just the first step.

"There is a lot of geotechnical and design work that has still got to be done," he said.

"This was the initial stage to see if it was feasible. The report has come back and said that it is feasible."

Crs Mick Curran and Rae Gate spoke in favour of the levee, Cr Curran asking "Do we want to mitigate these huge floods? Gympie will flood again. Do we want to be on the front page of the Courier Mail with the headline 'Another Disaster in Gympie'? Do we just keep copping it?"

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