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Some requests for the "next time"
Just remember that this is me thinking out aloud                               ( Printable Version)

1. A Centralised 1800 phone number that actually works. (Save the police Emergency phone lines being congested & staff overworked and less "rubbish" calls coming in) You had an 15metre river incident several weeks ago, where it should of been rectified then. This would no doubt free up staff (PFERS) to break into sections, ie Katherine , Mataranka, Beswick etc as I realise "it was all happening" (I have checked it again over Easter (since weather is looming in the Coral Sea) and the 1800 500 070 Flood Info number is now working.)

2. A website that is current. Dont give out the KROL website on the radio when it was not functional with "page under construction" on 95% of pages. Even the radio announcer queried it. All I have is this poxy little page, but I have had people from all over Australia email me thanking me for keeping them updated as they have family & loved ones here in town (and probably people they do not like), and I'll bet only 10% of people found my website by the time the waters are subsiding.(3000 individual PC's)

3. Official Updates (published) more regularly (or as often as you update the radio media). Even now the "official" last update of 9AM Friday 07Apr06 still says Katherine can expect 19.2 metres of water later today. (that was 7 hours ago & the water level has already dropped nearly 20cm today since 7AM. Even the NT Police Media page from 9.30AM says "
The Katherine River at the bridge rose slightly overnight, from a level of 18.93 to a level of 18.95 metres – still short of the predicted peak of 19.2 metres."
Between media & Official written reports , people out there are VERY confused.
If I can sit here with a threat of water coming & still having to lift fridges & washing machines and prepare the house & family & still bust my guts to gather information and inform the www public within minutes, I'm sure someone else can do it from the HQ where they source all the info first hand 24 hrs per day.

With further data gathered from this latest flood, updates to include probabilities or alerts? for certain areas like Gorge Rd, Kalano & Northbank

4. A webcam or two in the main street - We have piped music almost all the way down the street (ie we had the xmas cheer that the Darwin mall was missing), so what are a few cameras. (might save a few irate shop owners from having to mop up from bow waves next time)
I can see who is having a beer at Bojangles Pub in Alice Springs & walking in the Adelaide Mall, but have trouble seeing the bridge level (wet or foggy) & knowing what is happening in the Katherine CBD when needed. (That could of stopped several hundred/thousand calls to an information number that didn't work and then onto the Police)

5. More flood markers around town. -To combat mis-information and whether they are eyesores or not, we need a few strategically placed catalogued 1-2 metre markers like on the floodway approaches. ie or at least when the Katherine River hits a certain level , under a flood protocol the crews deploy & bolt the markers at say , (KT1 & KT2) traffic lights pole (both sides of street), (KT3)BP , (KT4)Sabu, (LR1)Lockheed Rd, Redgum, Bicentennial, etc etc. So we can get factual reports on what level is where. Ie Katherine Bridge at 19m at x O'Clock. Traffic lights at 0.6, Sabu at 1m, Lockheed at 0.5 etc etc.

Lets fix the Katherine's showcase height indicators once & for all.

6. More information inclusion of the homes along Gorge Rd as unfortunately the flood predictions were too late for these guys along there. They get several hours less time depending on how far upstream they are. All I really heard on the radio (when I was listening) were a few locals on the radio saying how high the water was at their place (and I have been to those places), but the urgency or "bigger picture" did not fit the current predictions of the Katherine Bridge. (and they end up cut off from town anyway at the various crossings to town)

Moving on to the physical side of things

7.The proposed bypass road from Town ( end of Maluka Rd /Chambers Crescent) out to Two Mile Creek on the Gorge Rd. Having this road (on the high ground) would of saved a lot of plant & equipment for Gorge Rd folk. Is it still going to be built ?? Even if it is just a solid gravel rd for now (at least up to high ground), to be utilised in the case of emergency by local residents. It is the least we can do for our Gorge Rd Town folk. And is two mile creek the only exit/entry point since 2 mile creek goes under. Is there another "longer way" around two mile creek as a back up?  What about the town water pipe road up to the Million Gallon tanks? (not the rock road)
Lets do a proper job at Bullocky Creek, it is the least we can do for Gorge Rd residents who get cut off each year. (The raising job a few years ago was a cost effective exercise. Do it right now & we save a fortune over the next 25 years)

8. Levee bank (not a big one)   I mentioned it today to a long term resident and right away got a "no" as it causes someone else to have a problem. OK I can understand that with many people, but just keep your mind open for a bit longer. What if I said,  "Katherine already has a multitude of "levee banks" in town right now". The bypass roads between Katherine East & town (Chambers Crescent & Katherine Terrace, town bound lane). Houses. Railway line through town (the hump over Vic Highway at Katherine Terrace Intersection), Railway line opposite the Council Chambers on Stuart Highway. Railway line opposite the Town swimming pool (that has a very inadequate drain cut through it). The stretch of road between the Rocks and the Hospital. The new Railway at Springvale. The pads we put in to build a ground level home. Every road ever made.

Have a drive around Warlpiri Camp and what do you see all the way along the drain from Sabu statue to Bicentennial rd/raceway (A bloody big 3 metre high levee bank where all the gravel was dug to make a town drain). So as of now, we have levees all designed to keep water in town. (disclaimer below)

How about we reclassify the wording of “levee bank” to something more useful like “all weather access road” or similar. Bicentennial rd is getting closer to an all weather access road (sort of) But it still resembles a "levee"


Warlpiri Camp with Town Drain levee bank at back
with a break in levee/town drain centre photo
I'm sure someone is cringing at the terminology here

Try thinking "proactive" alternatives instead of our wait & see flood "reaction" plan we currently have.
I for one would agree with an extra metre? of height (& 6-8 metres width) in the low areas from the Rocks along the riverbank to Knotts Crossing resort area (or the next high point). This alone could single handedly save the CBD? Build it over several years with landfill being utilised as a cheap alternative.
 In this situation (and I'm talking out my end here, like "Ace Ventura Pet Detective") maybe the height in Katherine CBD may of only been 30cm as there was not the extra flow rushing over the Old Airstrip?. Do we go higher than this...where would it end? You'd end up raising the Katherine Bridge as well. But we will no doubt have 20 more similar floods to 2006 than another one like 1998 (still rolling dice here......) And would it be better to read in the NT NEWS in 2009 "Katherine Township averted inundation with its recently built 50 centimetre high levee" "This saved the Insurance Companies Millions for the outlay of $1 million in dirt & culverts". Utilise soil from Maud Creek minesite, landfill? Or cheap fill from the old railway line opposite the Council? or even Warlpiri Camp hills levee for landfill.

Or do we read, Ho Hum Katherine Floods again and they did jack ship about it over the last 15 years.

If it comes up higher, well so be it. At least we all are in it together (again) but we may all be older greyer and wiser when it does..


The Rocks
Water spills over Gorge Rd and down to Old airstrip/Lockheed Rd /Sabu Statue
So why not raise it a metre.

There has to be a line drawn in the sand, and there will be many losers. ie the Katherine Hospital is one big one. People further upstream along Gorge rd & over on Emungulan? Possibly (sorry guys). As I said , just talking out......... but by the time some water spills out along the "old airstrip" low spots, many of you guys are already in strife. And in the case of C&A on Jaensch Rd who (I understand) just had water peep through the floorboards this time, maybe a levee further 8 km downstream might mean 5mm extra there (might have no effect) (might be catastrophic, I don't know) For people closer up stream, it "may" be an extra cm or two. After all it's coming up regardless.

Maybe the NT Govt could fund a study into what affect strategically placed "all weather access roads" will have in Katherine.

8. More work on town drains. The simple photo I saw of O'Shea Tce where water was higher in the street than in the riverbed. (maybe 600mm-800mm?) Water was pumping up out of the river via the drains and flowing downhill to Giles st. Need better non-return valves. Someone said the Katherine Bridge drain was working? That was an after 98 fix.

Invest in more culverts (big ones) when raising roads (levees) instead of the cheaper gravel option. Not just the one culvert at the low point, but a further 5 each side of it when we know it is a floodway. IE dig up the town drain roads and add more culverts either side on Lockheed, Stuart Hwy/Kth terrace & Bicentennial Rd & especially at the Vic Highway Meatworks (lets make that 100 metres worth of culverts (still not enough)) We already have a dug up road near there to relieve water on the old railway sleeper plant access rd (Yes I know, the cost the cost!) (The cost of not trying a few things?) Or dig it all up & span it with proper raised bridges that do not block the water. That should be the preferred option (no expense spared)

When the water gets high enough it will come back up the drainage canals and do what it does from Vic Highway/meatworks, but at least it would not be having to work against/or with the massively excess flow from within town with proper drains & levee working.

Just remember why man has always made access points at rivers & creeks. Primarily because they are "easy access" to start with (from the horse & cart days) before infrastructure like we have today. Fortunately the culverts in place do an adequate job most of the time, but when it really counts the cost cutting of that time really shows. (and even in recent roadworks) Just look at the old culverts in the town drain as you drive to town. The road is now built up there higher than in 1998, but did we go cheap on adequate culverts?

9. Gorge Road Residents.- What can we do about Gorge Road residents……sorry, not much. (except better road access to high ground) (and a how about a few piles of dirt ie like large strategically placed 2+ metre high loading ramps for last minute vehicle access)
There are some rock piles along Gorge road opposite/ near Shady Lane area that could be built up and used as vehicle evacuation points. The raised land next to the pond at Kumbidgee could be further raised and landscaped.
The water will come & go & there will be devastation of property as before, but at least many will have easy access to their vehicles to get back on track. (or to sleep in, or to boat to)
Most of the "landscaping components" of the "all weather access bike paths" or "piles of dirt projects" can be ongoing Work for The Dole projects giving the local unemployed a part in the Community.

10. Flood Mitigation. Do we mention Flood mitigation above the Gorge ?
I always though the Gorge acted as a flood mitigation dam anyway. But do we also add some more concrete above the 13
th Gorge and make it narrower? (ie mitigate the water flow) (However after watching the building of the Hoover Dam doco. all I see is $$)
We cannot just lay some concrete (like Donkey Camp) as it will be overflowing after the first rain.
- Some people are also talking dam with turbines for power generation- Lets consider all options. (They did it at Lake Argyle back in the 70's, but wished they put in a bigger turbine due to the growth or the region and its success.

Artist's (??) Impression (Don't pay him) of a 12 metre high mitigation wall.

Remember that mitigation in this instance just means narrowing of an entrance way to slow the flow, not damming.

11. The rest of us along the river? Same as Gorge rd, not much except better warnings in place that mention river heights at strategic points like Donkey Camp and Rockhole etc.

Better flood level indicator signage at floodways on Florina rd (like at Rowlands Quarry creek) the water levels are indicated on the culverts (which is too far away from the dry land to see) (on both sides) and more guide posts along the roadside because once you stray to the side that is the end of you.

Also at Cossack road floodway, they could do with the road being raised another 1.5 metres? so residents can escape to higher ground.


Disclaimer: Now what I have written here is running on memory from years ago and I will need to go for a driveby to see if some of this is where I actually think it is (or not) It has been a few years since I was with the Firies and visited much of the town's backblocks squirting water.


It has been 18 months since I wrote my "next time list" and there has been a bit of movement.

A hard stand has been built at 2 Mile Creek above the flood level for vehicles caught between 2 mile creek & Bullock creeks.
KROL website has had another lease of life.
1800 number is functional
The March 2007 River rising had much better information transfer to the public
New Flood categories have been introduced to give more onus on the public to make an informed decision themselves.
Roads are being raised at the Quarry , Old Dairy section & Long John Creek along Florina Road.
Flood sirens are not defunct as a warning system.
As of October 2007, the River Camera is still off air and currently down for repairs (hoping it will be back up within months)
Bullock Creek is still a big standoff between Govt & Council.


(printable version but may have differences)

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