Using data to avoid disaster

Mackay Regional Council in Queensland is about to embark on a project that will improve its decision-making processes in emergency events.

Stage one of the project involves the installation of seven new rainfall and river height alert stations.

The stations will be located within the Pioneer Valley along Cattle Creek, Finch Hatton Gorge Creek and the Pioneer River between Netherdale and Mirani, including the Finch Hatton Showgrounds, which is subject to rapid and fast
rising floodwaters.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the alert stations would prove to be an indispensable tool in emergency situations.

“The stations will provide up-to-the-minute data on both river heights and rainfall received in areas that council previously had no data for.

“This project will enable better and more accurate public warnings to be issued and will lead to a review of minor, moderate and major flood levels at other existing sites.

“The improved data will assist council’s Emergency Management team and the Mackay Local Disaster Management Group in planning and making decisions about the need for evacuations due to riverine flooding.”

The proposed alert sites have been chosen in close consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and all equipment is being installed to BoM standards. On completion, all data will be made publicly available on the BoM website.

In preparation for the installation of new alert stations, Mackay Regional Council arborists will soon begin work removing selected trees from public land to meet the minimum clearance requirements, weather permitting.

Stage one is expected to be complete by August, 2017, in readiness for the 2017/2018 storm season.

The $320,000 project is a 50-50 joint-funded initiative between Mackay Regional Council and the State Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Local Government & Planning Local Grants Scheme.

The project is part of a five-year program as a part of council’s Flood and Stormwater Strategy.