SKM were engaged by council to complete a new flood study in October last year, well before the Boxing Day and January floods inundated Warwick and other nearby settlements along the Condamine River.
SKM were engaged by council to complete a new flood study in October last year, well before the Boxing Day and January floods inundated Warwick and other nearby settlements along the Condamine River. John Towells, pilot Peter Lindores

Council powers boosted by study

A NEW flood study for the Condamine River will give the Southern Downs Regional Council the full force of the law when it comes to refusing building within the flood plain, Mayor Ron Bellingham says.

Councillors at a special meeting in Warwick yesterday recovered copies of the Draft Interim Report on flooding of the Condamine River and tributaries by Brisbane-based consultants SKM.

The draft report was the second version completed by SKM but contains no recommendations for council action, with these expected to be part of the third version due by the end of October.

But despite the lack of detail Cr Bellingham last night made it clear the final adoption of the report - which would form part of a new planning scheme for the region due to take effect next March - would give council teeth to knock back development on flood-prone land.

"What we are saying is that yes, in the past there has been some inappropriate building and development activity in the river flood plain," the mayor said.

"The new powers that council will adopt as a result of this report will mean that for some landowners it will be a case of their ability to build being reduced."

SKM were engaged by council to complete a new flood study in October last year, well before the Boxing Day and January floods inundated Warwick and other nearby settlements along the Condamine River.

River gauge height data from the most recent floods has been factored into SKM's flood modelling to provide a picture of the maximum reach of floodwaters in urban and rural areas in an extreme flood scenario.

But Cr Bellingham said it was all but impossible to predict the absolute worst-case scenario.

"There are no real surprises in this report in terms of predicted maximum reach," he said.

"What has been thrown up is that the velocity or speed of flow in the Condamine in an extreme scenario may be a little higher than we previously thought."

He said the modelling produced by SKM was in line with a "flood hazard overlay" map included in the new draft planning scheme which is now out on public display.

The mayor said the report and associated mapping would be made publicly available once consultation by SKM with local communities began within the next few weeks.

Councillors last month expressed concern at the non-availability of the flood study when deciding on a plan for a million-bird chicken hatchery on the banks of the Condamine River just upstream of Allora.



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