Feature Length Pre-Recorded Presentation 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Somewhere over the Rainbow (#9)

Geoff Park 1 , David Stork 2 , Anna Roberts 1 , Michelle Dickson 3 , Ian Rutherfurd 4 , Simon Hof 5
  1. Natural Decisions Pty Ltd, Newstead, VIC, Australia
  2. West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, Traralgon, Victoria, Australia
  3. Blue Sense Consulting, Leongatha
  4. University of Melbourne, Parkville
  5. Water Technology, Notting Hill
  • During floods in 1950s a new 15km flowpath (avulsion) of the Thomson River formed across prime agricultural land. A weir was built at the divergence to push flows down the original course and provide an irrigation channel offtake. Scientific understanding indicates a high risk of another avulsion from the perched Thomson channel, if not managed effectively.
  • A Waterway Management Plan was developed using an evidence-based participatory method involving collaboration with the local community, technical experts and agency representatives. Activities included: establishment of inter-agency and community based working group, public meetings, one-on-one community interviews, socio-economic study, flood modelling, and benefit:cost analysis (using INFFER). The Plan aims to raise community and agency awareness of the risk of another avulsion and contains agreed options to address this risk, as well as enhancing the values of the Rainbow Creek and Thomson River.
  • The community‚Äôs understanding of the largescale waterway processes impacting their land has increased, and their contributions significantly shaped the Plan. The identified agreed actions are supported by the community and fully costed, making a strong business case with an 80% return on investment.
  • The project had a high level of local community participation working collaboratively with agencies, scientists, and technical experts, to develop a transparent, cost-effective management plan that addresses the economic and environmental waterway management risks. The Plan has been accepted and supported by the local community, which, only a few decades earlier, officially declared war on the state government and its agencies for the same issues.
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