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Rural floodplain management planning

The Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) is responsible for preparing rural floodplain management plans that define requirements for the management of floodwaters within ruralfloodplains.

Licensing of works and compliance functions under Part 8 of the Water Act 1912 are the responsibility of the Department of Water and Energy (DWE). DWE uses rural floodplain management plans as the basis for assessing works applications.

Floodplain management decisions need to satisfy the social and economic needs of the community as well as maintain or enhance the natural ecosystems that the floodplain sustains. 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 taken in order to appropriately manage floodplains across NSW:

  • flood study – defines the nature and extent of flooding and flood-related issues (hydraulic, environmental, and cultural) in technical terms
  • floodplain risk management study – evaluates 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 plan – outlines 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, rainfall intensity and flood frequency estimates. 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: 26 February 2011