The clean-up in Mary St, after the Australia Day floods, took weeks.
The clean-up in Mary St, after the Australia Day floods, took weeks. Renee Pilcher

Flood-proof plans to be discussed

A LONG-TERM plan to flood-proof the Gympie CBD will be high on the agenda of a special meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Gympie Regional Council next week.

With more heavy rain and flooding expected from tomorrow, and Premier Campbell Newman declaring he will consider relocating entire Queensland communities if they want it, councils like Gympie are exploring their options and companies like Urbis are making their services known.

Urbis is the Queensland property consultancy that orchestrated the relocation of Grantham, and is one of several consultancies to approach GRC since the Australia Day flood with some "compelling ideas about the rebuilding of Gympie".

After the 2011 flood, Urbis co-ordinated an Australian first when it moved Grantham to higher ground.

It is now suggesting this could be part of the solution for Gympie; a solution that might also include a land buy-back, mitigation, building elevations and community education.

Mayor Ron Dyne and Member for Gympie David Gibson have given the idea a luke-warm reception.

"The relocation of Grantham was a small issue in comparison to a remedy for Gympie," Cr Dyne said. Gympie experiences a vertical flood, which has its own unique challenges.

Mr Gibson said there were many lessons to be learnt from Grantham but every community was different and impacted by floods differently.

"In our case the situation would not be simply solved by relocating impacted businesses," he said.

"There are also questions about town planning, about the suitability of existing infrastructure (mainly bridges and roads) as well as those sporting facilities that are located in flood-prone areas.

"The Bureau of Meteorology flood data shows us that there is a long history of the Mary River flooding around Gympie. I'm sure after the 25m flood in 1893 the very same questions were being asked that are being asked today."

Urbis says one of the options for Gympie is a more adaptive design solution - things like delayed surface drainage and infiltration.

Fast facts

What happened in the Grantham relocation project:

  • A new residential estate was developed on higher ground adjacent to the existing township
  • Home owners were given an option to swap their existing house for a new block of land in the new estate
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