2023 ‘Disaster Preparedness’ Category Honourable Mention

Renmark Paringa Council, SA

River Murray Flood: Levee Network and Interactive Mapping Tool

Photo of a flooding sign at 0.6m with a sunset in the background. Photo credit: Renmark Paringa Council, SA

The Initiative

In 2022, South Australia faced the second biggest River Murray Flood in 152 years, which the state Government said, “will be one of the most, if not the most, significant natural disaster in the state’s history”.

Renmark Paringa Council adopted a ‘go hard and go early’ approach to re-engineering the 38 kilometre levee network to ensure the community was protected and the devastating impacts of a flood were prevented.

To ensure our community was engaged and informed, an interactive map was embedded in Council’s website to showcase water inundation modelling, as well as the status of remediation works undertaken to the levee network Council’s approach to disaster prevention and preparedness had two main goals:

  1. ensure that the infrastructure and townships could withstand the impending flow of the River Murray; and
  2. engage and inform the community throughout the event.

    The peak of the flood hit 18.55 metres and Council’s levee network stood strong, with no breaches incurred. Our townships were prepared, with no residential houses within the levee network affected.

Early on, fear and anxiety permeated the community due to the threat of the unknown and the spread of misinformation. The interactive map allowed Council and the community to accurately identify the areas of the levee network being worked on and what works were scheduled. The interactive map was a huge success. It kept the community engaged, eased anxiety, and brought the community back to a central point of truth.

The success of Council’s flood response can be measured in two ways:

  1. towns were protected from floodwaters; and
  2. community engagement was exceptional and measurable.

Our towns stayed dry and no lives were lost in the Council area.

These are the fundamental foundations of our success but, what was most incredible, was the positive engagement and feedback Council received from the community.

Overall, Council’s management of the River Murray Flood ensures we are prepared to withstand another high river event and that our community has confidence in Council to deliver on disaster prevention, recovery, and preparedness in future.

Aerial photo of flooding. Photo credit: Renmark Paringa Council, SA

About the Category

The ‘Disaster Preparedness’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • support communities to manage and adapt to climatic events by investing in disaster prevention, recovery and preparedness;
  • actively reduce risks from disasters and pandemics, particularly as they impact local communities;
  • ensure the Australian community is prepared to endure more frequent challenging events; and/or
  • implement programs and policies that ensure communities survive and prosper following these events.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • lowering the potential impacts of disasters and pandemics by analysing and managing the causes;
  • identifying risks and mapping capacity to respond to hazards;
  • protecting lives and livelihoods, communities and individuals; and/or
  • reducing damage or loss from disaster, particularly when it comes to public and private infrastructure.

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