Browns Creek pumps no match for flash flooding

Wednesday, 16 December

Lismore has experienced significant flash flooding today and Lismore City Council is urging people to avoid the Lismore CBD and other low-lying areas.

Lismore City Council Assets Manager Scott Turner explained that the Browns Creek pumps are working as normal but could not keep up with the sheer volume of water that was deposited in today’s deluge.

Lismore’s flood gates and stormwater drains are closed to keep floodwater from the Wilsons River out of the CBD and surrounds, so there is nowhere for further rainfall to go.

“The Browns Creek pumps can pump around 5mm of water per hour from the CBD back into the Wilsons River. Normally, this helps to keep the Lismore CBD dry while the levee is closed and water is pumped back out into the river system,” he explained.

“Today, we saw Lismore receive more than 46mm of rain in one hour – that’s over nine times the volume of water these pumps can handle.”

Scott, who is also the Lismore Local Emergency Management Officer during natural disasters, said today’s downpour was ‘extraordinary’.

“The speed at which the Lismore basin filled was very unusual – you simply cannot prepare for a deluge like that,” he said.

“Council follows a strict set of guidelines for operation of more than 30 flood gates and eight pumps to mitigate flood impacts. Our system has been implemented as normal and the Browns Creek pumps are currently working at capacity to pump water out of the basin.”

Scott said further heavy rain and flash flooding was possible in Lismore and people should exercise caution until the current weather system has eased.

He advised people to stay at home if possible or avoid driving when there is heavy rain. He said with a saturated catchment, it could take some time for the localised flooding in the basin to drain.

“The downpour happened so quickly today and people were all trying to get home or to where they were going, which is understandable, but caused some significant traffic issues,” Scott said.

“In major downpours it is best if you can avoid being on the road altogether and wait it out before driving. It’s also really important that we remain patient with one another. No-one is at fault here – this is an act of nature and the reality of living in a flood city. The best we can do is stay calm and exercise caution so that we all get through these events safely.

“And we should all heed the SES advice to never drive, ride or walk through floodwater.”
 

News Updates