The Toowoomba community witnessed devastating and distressing flooding along the Gowrie Creek system in January 2011. Graphic footage of raging torrents causing substantial damage and inundation, particularly in the CBD of the city, was beamed around the world.
Developed in 1998, the Gowrie Creek Catchment Management Strategy (GCCMS) proposes a series of flood mitigation works including detention basins and channel improvements upstream of the CBD, initially to be implemented over 25 years.
Since this time, Council has worked with consultants from SKM, GHD, WBM, and currently AECOM to develop this Strategy.
In 2007, the Gowrie Creek Flood Risk and Mapping Study was undertaken by Council and independent consultants.
The 2007 study was then updated post-2011 flood using the latest hydraulic modelling by AECOM.
The updated hydraulic model was peer reviewed in 2013 by Dr Ian Brodie (University of Southern Queensland), Dr James Ball (University of Technology Sydney), Dr Grant Witheridge (Catchments & Creeks Pty Ltd) and Mr Grantley Smith (University of NSW Water Research Laboratory).
Direct benefits of the implemented GCCMS include:
- significant improvement to flood mitigation
- better control of urban stormwater
- improved safety during flooding
- upgraded infrastructure to cater for the city's growth
- reduced flow speeds, resulting in flood mitigation and erosion control.
Revitalisation of the Gowrie Creek system to a more natural state is one of the aims of the GCCMS and involves lessening the impacts of stormwater, flooding and pollutants while improving bank stability, water quality and creek health.
Following the flooding events of 2011, Council was required to submit evidence to the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry relating to any flood-mitigation works undertaken by Council. In Council's statement to the Commission, the Strategy and associated completed and proposed works were cited as Council's long term commitment to provide appropriate flood mitigation in the city.
Ruthven Street culvert upgrade
Toowoomba Regional Council is upgrading the East Creek Ruthven Street culvert to help improve the flood immunity of the Ruthven Street road crossing, Chalk Drive intersection and adjacent properties and businesses.
A single southbound lane has been re-opened to Ruthven Street traffic near Chalk Drive after completion of the first stage of piling work. Northbound traffic can do a U-turn at the culvert works or turn right into Hodgson Street.
Council thanks local traders for their ongoing involvement in the project and is encouraging customers to support local businesses during construction. Two-way traffic will be restored by mid-February 2016, weather permitting. The project is due for completion in March 2016, weather permitting.
Pedestrian access will be maintained around the site during the project.
This $4.48 million project, part of the East Creek Master Plan, is being funded by the State Government, with $2.68 million through the Royalties for the Regions program, and Council providing the balance.
Toowoomba is built within a total water catchment area covering 56 square kilometres, featuring two main creeks – East and West Creeks – that meet just north of the CBD to form Gowrie Creek.
East Creek forms at the top of Middle Ridge, runs through Ballin Drive Park, the Waterbird Habitat and Garnet Lehmann Park.
It then flows downstream of Garnet Lehmann Park to form Lake Annand and then flows into the concrete-lined channel running parallel to Kitchener Street from Perth Street to Herries Street.
After running through a series of ponds, it cuts across the bottom corner of Queens Park, under Hume Street, and then flows in a narrow channel parallel to Chalk Drive. The creek passes under Ruthven Street where it meets West Creek to form Gowrie Creek.
The other arm, West Creek, starts at Kearneys Spring and runs down through a series of detention basins and continues into the city centre.
It runs through the City Golf Club, opposite Toowoomba Hospital, behind the PCYC down to Herries Street. It then runs parallel to Dent Street, behind the old library then under Margaret Street and then parallel to Victoria Street, under Russell Street where it meets East Creek to form Gowrie Creek.
The East Creek Masterplan has been under development for a number of years. The Strategy for Gowrie Creek and subsequent reviews all recommend, as a priority, the construction of detention basins in the East Creek catchment and channel improvements along East Creek between James and Herries streets. Ballin Drive and Garnet Lehmann Parks were identified as the best locations due to available size and mitigation capacity.
In 2013, the East Creek Masterplan was completed. The Masterplan includes upgrading of road crossings and channels as well as various options for detention measures. It also considers planning aspects such as land acquisition that can reduce the likelihood and consequences of flooding. When the NDRRA funding became available for flood mitigation works, the Masterplan was expedited, completed and formalised.
The Masterplan offers an over-arching and cost-effective plan for reducing and managing flood hazards and providing flood mitigation works in East Creek while minimising impacts to parks and open space areas. Consultation for the Masterplan occurred between November 2013 and April 2014.