DARK DEPTHS: The Clarence River flows at Carnham. Photo:Graham Mackie
DARK DEPTHS: The Clarence River flows at Carnham. Photo:Graham Mackie

Will we be swapping bushfires for floods?

AFTER the Clarence copped a weekend soaking, there was a sudden reminder of the risk of flood and the question is: are we due another one?

January recorded both the highest flood level on record and the most floods over 2.1m.

There have been 23 floods recorded over that mark in January, the highest of which was the 2013 flood which topped 8m.

Records also show January to April is when the Valley is statistically most at risk from flood and with 2013 being the last time there was a major one – over 5.4m – it may have people thinking there is another just around the corner.

Clarence Valley Council water cycle manager Greg Mashiah said with the catchment now wet “significant rainfall would increase the risk of flooding”.

But while chances of a more serious flood were unknown, the significant rainfall had taken a toll on infrastructure around the Clarence already.

In a coincidence Armidale Rd was now closed due to flooding, undoing the weeks of work by the council to have the road open again after its closure in November.

Flash flooding damaged the temporary bridges installed after the original bridges were destroyed by bushfire.

The bridges at Hortons Creek, Kangaroo Creek and Ramornie Station were all now out of action, a council spokesperson said.

Flash flooding also submerged McIntyres Lane in Gulmarrad, Orara Way at Kremnos, and Wooli Rd in Pillar Valley.

The spokesperson said Wooli Rd was significantly affected and the council would repair the damage as fast as possible.

The rain filled tanks and dams across the region and increased river flows, level one water restrictions will remain in the LGA.

Mr Mashiah said the council policy dictated the restrictions would remain and in the event they were lifted there were still “permanent water conservation measures in place”.

“We lift the restrictions 14 days after the flow is over 225ML/day,” he said.

“We encourage Clarence Valley residents to save water any way they can.”

The amount of run-off and ash which had entered the river system was also being monitored and Mr Mashiah said any change to the situation would be influenced by water quality testing.

“We are currently testing the water for any contamination following the rain event and will make a decision when we receive the results,” he said.