By ERWIN CHLANDA
Despite warnings that climate change will make catastrophic flooding of Alice Springs more likely, the NT Government is in no hurry to act meaningfully about something that has killed people.
A spokesman for the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics said yesterday: “The department is currently undertaking an assessment of flood mitigation structural measures as recommended in the Alice Springs Flood Mitigation Committee’s Report.”
That report was released in mid-2016 by the chairman of the government appointed committee (pictured above), Mayor Damien Ryan.
The main thrust was that work is yet to begin and there is plenty of it. The immediate priority is to undertake “preliminary investigations,” was the report’s meagre conclusion.
In January 2018 – two years ago – the Alice Springs News spoke with Mayor Ryan, now a CLP candidate in the NT elections later this year.
NEWS: Where is flood mitigation planning at? There are two council members on the committee.
RYAN: The report by the committee was presented to the Minister Nicole Manison a year ago, with provision to start with stage one to run modules on the water flow in Central Australia.
NEWS: What has she done in the meantime?
RYAN: You have to ask the minister yourself.
NEWS: Is the committee still in existence?
RYAN: The committee was asked to do a job and it completed that job.
NEWS: Has the committee been disbanded?
RYAN: The committee was asked to do a job which we completed. We haven’t been asked to do anything else.
Inaction about the flood threat goes back well before that.
After significant protest, construction of a dam at Junction Waterhole (at left) was prevented in 1992 by a 20 year moratorium under the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act, with a view to protecting sacred sites in the area.
That moratorium expired in 2012.
UPDATE January 18, 2020
Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley (pictured) says she put the Written Questions below to the Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Eva Lawler, on December 19, 2018, and they were answered by the Minister on January 24, 2019.
1. What flood mitigation projects are currently being undertaken by the NT Government in Alice Springs?
Government is undertaking preliminary investigations to test the viability of structural mitigation options , to reduce the frequency and impact of flooding in Alice Springs, in accordance with the recommendations by the Alice Springs Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee.
2. What funding has the NT Government allocated to flood mitigation in Alice Springs?
Budget 2018 has provided $500,000 in 2018/19 for digital modelling of structural mitigation measures and a further $500,000 in 2019/20 to design the best flood mitigation solution, following the outcomes of the digital modelling.
The 10 Year Infrastructure Plan 2018 – 2027 identifies new infrastructure to mitigate flooding in Alice Springs staged over the medium and longer term (three to 10 years).
3. What is the NT Government’s plan for mitigating the impact of floods in Alice Springs?
In accordance with recommendations from the Alice Springs Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee report released in June 2017, updated topographic data has been captured and an updated Alice Springs digital flood model is expected to be complete by February 2019.
The results of this updated information will help to inform the best structural mitigation solution s t o progress to design in 2019 – 20, in consultation with key stakeholders including pastoral lease holders and native title holders.
4. Is the NT Government considering building a bridge across the Taffy Pick Crossing in Alice Springs, to ease the pressure of flooding on residents and businesses in Desert Springs?
Engineering assessment and community feedback indicate that the preferred option for flood immunity for this area is a connector road from Stephens Road to Sadadeen Road , via dire ct road link. This supports all – year – round flood free access, improves road network and supports land development.
A bridge across the Casino (Taffy Pick) causeway is no longer under consideration.
By ERWIN CHLANDA