Feature Length Live Virtual Presentation 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

The ethics and legalities of waterway recovery and flooding impact. (#23)

Ben B Walker 1 , Adam Berry 2 , Philip Smith 3
  1. E2Designlab, West End, QLD, Australia
  2. Synergy Solutions, Ipswich, QLD, Australia
  3. Ipswich City Council, Ipswich, QLD, Australia
  • Increase in flooding and ‘no-worsening’ can be the bane of professionals working in the waterway management and rehabilitation field. We understand that the roadmap to waterway recovery often requires addressing modified flow regimes and modified channel characteristics, seeking to improve vertical, lateral and longitudinal connectivity, increase roughness and at times reduce channel capacity.  These outcomes almost always have the potential to modify flooding characteristics somewhere throughout the catchment, with potential impacts to private landholders.  This led us to investigate the ethics, legalities and potential solutions for waterway recovery projects hampered by flooding.  
  • Using recent project examples that have been challenged by risk and afflux (including channel naturalisation and a recently completed large scale natural floodplain management investigation), we have compared the status quo approach against contemporary risk-based approaches to floodplain management. We’ve considered ethics, recent interpretations of common law and contemporary approaches to floodplain management that challenge the status-quo approach.
  • Responses to flooding and potential impacts are regularly interpreted in a black and white manner of ‘no-worsening’. However this is severely limiting, usually not necessary and often inappropriate.  We’ve found that a contemporary interpretation of common law and moving towards adaptive and risk-based approaches allows improved integration between ecological and flooding outcomes.
  • Contemporary approaches to floodplain management are set to change the industry by encouraging adaption instead of defence. Our investigation challenges industry status-quo, considering risk and appreciable impact.  This approach has positive implications for the viability of waterway management and recovery projects, allowing improved ecological outcomes.
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