Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) on March 15 endorsed a motion calling for State and Commonwealth funds to help Council reconstruct more resilient assets when undertaking restoration works in the wake of February’s severe weather event and subsequent flooding.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said Council would advocate for Betterment program funding to rebuild public assets to a more resilient standard to withstand the effects of inevitable future natural disasters.

“Council will submit an initial list of projects (*refer below) to the Commonwealth and State governments for Betterment funding consideration,” Mayor Antonio said.

“While Council is assessing the extent of damage to public infrastructure following heavy rain and extensive flooding in late February 2022, it is clear we, like other local authorities, will need external funding to complete our Region’s recovery works.

“Council is determined to continue improving flood immunity across the Region.

“The situation also highlights why Council fully supports the Australian Local Government Association’s campaign calling for a fixed 1% share of Commonwealth tax revenue to aid local authorities’ long-term financial planning to service our growing Region with essential infrastructure.”

TRC Infrastructure Services Committee chair Cr Carol Taylor said gaining access to Betterment funds would help Council reduce the social and economic costs of flooding and storm disasters to the community.

“The Betterment program specifically allows roads and other infrastructure to be built to a more flood resilient standard.

mariacreekroadweb“Council is committed to improving the community’s ability to prepare and respond to future flooding and do what is necessary to create a safer, stronger and more resilient Region, however we need funding support to complete this extensive restoration work,” Cr Taylor said.

“There is widespread damage across the Toowoomba Region road network with around 20 roads still closed after the event, with numerous roads damaged, but which are trafficable with care.

“Funding assistance will help improve not only flood resilience, but road safety and connectivity, especially for rural producers and transport operators.

“Following the 2010/2011 record flood events, Council undertook the largest flood recovery program the Region has seen. This program was interrupted by further flooding in early 2013 and in 2015. The Region has also experienced further flood events in 2018, 2020 and late last year.

“While the 2010/11 repairs and flood mitigation engineering were expensive, most of the funding was drawn from federal and state government support and the works have been designed to protect Toowoomba Region residents for generations.

“Council has been working on a range of complementary projects covering land use planning, flood studies and mapping, overland flow mapping and emergency management planning.

“Council’s top priority is to improve public safety and upgrade our flood immunity and our awareness about preparing residents for inevitable future events.

“Recent heavy rain events in Toowoomba showed that the various projects were working to do exactly what they were designed to achieve by keeping the creeks generally flowing in their respective channels.

“While we can’t completely safeguard against extreme weather events, I’m confident that the Region has vastly improved infrastructure that will offer greater resilience to withstand future flooding and mitigate flood impacts.”

Council endorsed the following initial project list to be considered for external funding:

1. That Council support the submission of the following initial projects to the Federal and State governments for Betterment funding consideration:
• Upgrade of the Neil Street culvert, Toowoomba,
• Upgrade of the Perth Street culvert, Toowoomba,
• Flood mitigation improvements to the Russell and Victoria Street intersection and adjacent West Creek channel, Toowoomba,
• Review and update of the Gowrie Creek Catchment Flood Models and support the implementation of potential flood immunity improvements,
• McDougall Street at South Street, Toowoomba: Installation of culverts and raising road to reduce incidence of flooding.
• Kelvinhaugh-Yalangur Road at Oakey Creek: Upgrade culvert crossing to provide greater flood immunity,
• Boundary Street at Beacon Court: Installation of culverts and raising road to reduce incidence of flooding,
• Westbrook-Wyreema Road at Westbrook Creek: Upgrade culvert capacity,
• Maria Creek Road: Upgrade of floodway, culvert capacity and batter protection works,
• Blaxland Road: Upgrade of culverts, floodway and batter protection works,
• Goombungee-Mount Darry Road: Drainage improvements,
• Perseverance Hall Road: Upgrade to concrete floodway, culvert capacity increase and batter protection works,
• O’Connor Road, Coalbank: Upgrade to existing floodway and batter protection,
• Jimna Springs Road: Extension to existing concrete floodway and concrete batter protection works,
• Beauaraba Road: Installation of new concrete floodway and batter protection works,
• Lagoon Creek Road: Upgrade and seal 400m steep section,
• Mount Molar Road: Upgrade culvert structure, Sobbe Gully,
• Upgrade to and relocation of Wivenhoe Pump Station,
• Review of sewerage inundation across network,
• Safety upgrades to Cooby and Cressbrook Dams,
• Resilience and redundancy access to water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants and waste facilities across the region, and
• Resilience to parks, reserves, walking and fire trails, especially on The Great Dividing Range escarpment.

2. That the State government be requested to:
• Upgrade high risk flooding and landslip locations on the State road network where access to regional communities is impacted in times of natural disasters,
• Re-establish the State’s Soil Conservation Service as a preventative measure to the ongoing extensive damage experienced on both private and public lands from drought and flood events, and
• Undertake flood mitigation improvements to Bridge Street and Tor Street intersection, Toowoomba.

3. That Council request the State and Federal governments amend the current Betterment funding arrangements to support assets being restored to a more resilient standard during the restoration phase of a Reconstruction of Essential Public Assets (REPA) program.

4. That the Federal and State governments be requested to upgrade the flood immunity of the Gore Highway, in particular the Condamine River Flood Plain.

Caption: The flood damage to O’Connor Road, Coalbank (top) and the floodway destruction at Maria Creek Road (centre).