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The NSW Government’s State Disaster Mitigation Plan 2024- 2026 has identified the Clarence Valley LGA in the top three locations of highest flood risk for social, economic, and natural environments. Image: file photo

Valley flood risk top 3 in State Disaster Mitigation Plan

Rodney Stevens

The Clarence Valley is the only Local Government Area LGA in the state that ranks in the top three locations of highest flood risk for social, economic and natural environments, in the NSW Government’s State Disaster Mitigation Plan 2024- 2026.

Developed by the NSW Reconstruction Authority, the NSW Government recently released the nation’s first State Disaster Mitigation Plan SDMP, which reveals the cost of building and infrastructure damage from natural disasters could hit $9.1 billion per year by 2060, up from an estimated average cost of $3.1 billion per year, if mitigation steps aren’t taken.

The SDMP outlines how rising costs can be addressed by refocusing government policy towards risk-reducing actions, plus it details how government agencies can work collaboratively to help communities prepare for worsening bushfires, heatwaves, floods, storms, and coastal erosion.

The plan states that between 1900 and 2022 there have been 950 flood events in NSW resulting in 736 lives lost, 5,066 injuries and 3,596 homes lost.

NSW has suffered losses of over $11.8 billion in 2022 as a result of flood events between 1967 and 2022.

There were more than 20,000 homes damaged in 2022 alone, with climate change expected to increase the severity and frequency of natural disasters in the future.

The 164-page SDMP identifies the Natural Hazard Risks in NSW, detailing the main types of flooding experienced are flash flooding, riverine flooding, local overland flooding, and dam failure flooding.

The plan also analysed the factors and affects of flooding including flood depth and height, flood velocity, rate of water rising, duration, and extent of the flooding to determine areas with the greatest flood hazard.

“Riverine flood hazard in NSW is greatest around coastal river systems including the Northern Rivers region of northern NSW and LGAs in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley to the west and northwest of Sydney,” the SDMP states.

The Flood Impacts and Risk section of the plan analysed the Built, Social, Economic, and Natural impacts of floods including damage to housing and infrastructure, loss of business, death and injuries, loss of social and cultural sites, damage to crops and livestock, soil and riverbank erosion and damage to unique ecosystems to determine the LGAs with highest flood risk.


“The LGAs with the highest flood hazard are the Hawkesbury, equal for Clarence Valley, Ballina and Coonamble,” the SDMP states.

“The LGAs with the highest flood risk to the built environment are the Clarence Valley, Tweed and Ballina.”

Overall, the Clarence Valley was the only LGA that ranked in the top three in NSW in 2023 for the highest flood risk in the Social, Economic and Natural environments.

Additionally, the Clarence Valley LGA was ranked as having the highest coastal hazard risk in NSW for damage to the natural environment.

Other areas raking in the top three in NSW in 2023 for highest flood risk to the Social, Economic and Natural environments were Coonamble, Hawkesbury, Ballina, and Lismore.

Due to the risks identified in the Northern Rivers region, a local Disaster Adaptation Plan is currently being developed for both the Hawkesbury Nepean and the Northern Rivers as part of the plan’s actions.

Other actions to be implemented include boosting the state’s “Get Ready” preparedness campaigns, building a local government toolkit for councils in preparing for disasters and climate change, developing local Disaster Adaptation Plans, developing early warning systems, identifying mitigation infrastructure strategies and approaches to funding, working with industry to review building codes to factor in greater building resilience, and renewing insurance levy arrangements and working with the insurance sector to factor in affordability in adaption planning.

The SDMP can be found at