DAMAGED rural drainage systems will be cleaned out, repaired and fitted with mechanisms that will reduce the impacts of future flooding, thanks to the Australian and NSW governments’ $5-million Northern Rivers Drainage Reset Program.
The program is part of the $150-million Primary Industry Support Package, co-funded under the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin stated, “I welcome this modest grant as will our local farmers, as it can start to address a long-term legacy issue.
“It is recognition that this is a major issue that needs to be addressed in the overall mitigation plans yet to come. A welcome small reset,” Ms Saffin said.
“I also look forward to seeing future announcements on residential drains action across the Northern Rivers.
“I have advocated on this matter across all local government areas of the Lismore Electorate. Here in Lismore alone, Lismore City Council in 2016 had a drains maintenance backlog of some $23 million.”
Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, said the program will support the recovery of Northern Rivers primary producers in the sugarcane, horticulture, rice, soybeans, beef and dairy industries who continue to be impacted by flood-damaged drainage systems.
“This program will provide an injection of funds to improve priority drainage channels, reducing the immediate risks to agricultural assets and surrounding communities in future flood events,” Minister Watt said.
“The funding will focus on the cleaning and treatment of sediment in drains to assist in the movement of water through these river systems.
“This represents the practical and tangible ways we’re improving the longer-term flood resilience of this region.”
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the Northern Rivers Drainage Reset Program is a direct response to findings and recommendations from the Independent Flood Inquiry.
NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said an immediate solution was required to address this longstanding issue.
“Having a clean and healthy drainage system in our Northern Rivers is critical to running productive farms and mitigating future flooding events,” Mr Saunders said.
The $5-million Northern Rivers Drainage Reset Program is being administered by Regional NSW in partnership with the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation, and will be rolled-out by local councils.