Ridiculously long wait for Rocky flood levee plan

IT COULD take up to a year to develop a detailed Rockhampton Airport flood levee design.

The council and the State Government have prioritised the shovel-ready South Rockhampton Flood Levee project, following the recent floods.

But Capricornia MP Michelle Landry is keen to make sure any mitigation works incorporate the bigger picture and the airport.

On Tuesday, Ms Landry called on all levels of government to prioritise an airport levee, stating closures during severe weather events bled the regional economy and told potential investors "we aren't ready for major development".

Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow yesterday said the council is "very keen" to do further analysis "to see what tweaks can be made to improve the earlier design".

These initial designs were drawn up in 1992, but have not been developed further in the decades since and are not available to view.

Rockhampton airport.  View from chopper during Fitzroy River in flood.      Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin   ROK7111cho-S3
Rockhampton airport. View from chopper during Fitzroy River in flood. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin ROK7111cho-S3 Sharyn O'Neill

During their ordinary meeting last week, Rockhampton councillors resolved to seek further funding from the State and Federal governments for a planning and feasibility study to build on these plans.

"We absolutely agree that protecting our airport is in our best interest, but there is a lot more work to be done before we can begin having conversations on how that levee might be shaped and how much it would cost," Cr Strelow said.

"A fully developed airport levee would involve soil tests, cost benefit analysis, ecological and environmental assessments, cultural heritage assessments and final design. Once we have our facts and figures all in a row, then we would need to undertake community consultation and seek funding if it stacks up.

"To date, most of the work has been in getting a good computer model of how our floodplain works.

"To take the airport levee to the next step will take about six months (maybe 12 months) and cost an estimated $400,000 to $500,000."

Cr Strelow stressed it's not so much about the size of the levee, but "does it block a flow of water?".

"The airport levee is right in the middle of the flow from Pink Lily around to Yeppen. South Rockhampton Levee is (for the most part) tucked up out of the flow," she said.

"The hydrologists may be able to improve the design of the airport considerably throughout their studies.

"Council's priorities, first established in 1992, were for the Yeppen Crossing, followed by the South Rockhampton Levee (keeping the Bruce Highway dry), followed by the airport levee."

Council has also resolved to seek funds for a planning and feasibility study of the remaining flood levee options for Splitters Creek, as identified in previous studies.

They separately prioritised further North Rockhampton flood mitigation works as urgent.