Newstead levee addition soon to Launceston's flood levee system

Work should begin very soon on an extension to the city’s flood levee system at Newstead according to Launceston Flood Authority chair Alan Birchmore.

A construction start date for the levee at Hart Street and Hoblers Bridge was described as “pretty close”.

“It’s a good standard that we have and the approvals process is well advanced and I would hope that a start could be made anytime now,” Mr Birchmore said.

After the June 2016 floods the federal government committed $250,000 towards the Newstead levee project which will be matched by the City of Launceston.

Mr Birchmore said once the levee was built the flood prone areas in the city would be well covered.

“There are still some times where water gathers within the levees but in terms of protection from the North and South Esk rivers flooding, the Newstead work will complete everything that needs to be done,” he said.

The flood authority chief said it was not a surprise to hear the recent results of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Research report into the 2016 floods.

The report found that the damage could have been four times the cost of the new levee project, if the old levees had been in place and failed.

"That’s not unusual for these sort of infrastructure investments, they are generally calculated first as to what they save and if it is in fact worth the outlay and I think the best example is the 1929 floods,” Mr Birchmore said.

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“Twenty-two people lost their lives, it took Launceston’s economy at least 10 years to recover and it was a massive setback for the city and the people who live here.

“The levees are designed to take that degree of flood so clearly the relationship between money saved and money invested is quite robust.”

The system allows for both rivers to flood but in the June 2016 floods the North Esk registered flows “way above” anything else on the record to date, Mr Birchmore said.

“But because they drain different areas, the North and South Esk don’t normally totally coincide, the North Esk is usually first and the South Esk is generally a day or so later,” he said.