Rural floodplain management planning
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is responsible for preparing rural floodplain management plans that define the requirements for managing floodwaters within rural floodplains.
Licensing of works and compliance functions under Part 8 of the Water Act 1912 (to be replaced by provisions within the Water Management Act 2000) are the responsibility of the NSW Office of Water (NOW), which uses rural floodplain management plans as the basis for assessing applications for works.
Floodplain management decisions need to satisfy the social and economic needs of communities as well as maintaining or enhancing the natural ecosystems that floodplains sustain. The Floodplain Development Manual, released in 2005, outlines processes for ensuring these needs are addressed through the development of floodplain management plans.
The following steps are followed in order to appropriately manage floodplains across NSW:
- flood studies which define the nature and extent of flooding and flood-related issues (hydraulic, environmental, and cultural) in technical terms
- floodplain risk management studies to evaluate management options in consideration of social, environmental and economic factors in order to address existing and future flood risk and flood management issues
- rural floodplain management plans which outline strategies to manage flood risk and flood management issues, and support the natural functions of the floodplain environment.
Climate change has the potential to alter flood patterns due to changes in monthly average rainfall, the distribution of rainfall and its intensity, and flood frequencies. Changes to groundwater and soil moisture could also change the magnitude and duration of floods.
Adapting floodplain management now to account for the predicted effects of climate change will reduce longer term vulnerability and economic costs. When reviewing existing rural floodplain management plans, particular attention will be given to addressing potential climate change impacts in relation to flood risk exposure, floodplain ecosystems (e.g. wetlands) and rural economies.
Page last updated: 03 May 2011