Drainage board calls for stronger coastal collaboration

STRONGER COLLABORATION: The South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board chair Lee Morgan told a parliamentary committee that the Coast Protection Board needed a greater presence in regional areas.

By Raquel Mustillo

THE South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board has called for greater collaboration with the Coast Protection Board, with chair Lee Morgan telling a parliamentary inquiry the board “appears to have a focus on managing coastal issues affecting the Adelaide metropolitan area”.

In a submission to parliament’s Environment, Resource and Development Committee, Mr Morgan highlighted a number of challenges relating to the functions of the conservation and drainage act which planning for emerging risk related to sea level rise and sand movement.

Mr Morgan said the board manages a 2500km network of drains in the region, with the management of flood waters to protect agricultural productivity a function of the board.

He said historically, the drainage practice has been to direct flows to the ocean through 13 outlets, the largest of which are located within or close to Kingston, Robe, Beachport, Southend and Port MacDonnell.

“These outlets provide a direct conduit for ocean surges to inundate inland areas of the coastline, which have the potential to render agricultural land unproductive, and cause damage to property, buildings and state infrastructure,” Mr Morgan said.

“The South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board are already challenged with managing drainage flows and any increase in sea level rise will impede flows and cause additional risk of inland flooding.

“Movement of oceanic sands causing blockages at outlets is an ongoing maintenance issue that requires the expertise of officers of the Coast Protection Branch to address.”

Mr Morgan said while there was a need for collaboration between the Coast Protection Board and the drainage board to ensure risks were managed, he said a greater presences in regional areas was required.

“The Coast Protection Board appears to have a focus on managing coastal areas affecting the Adelaide metropolitan area,” he said.

“There will be an increased need for the experience of the Department of Water and Environment staff assisting the Coast Protection Board to support regional areas like the South East as these issues continue to emerge.”