Published on 09 May 2022

Major flood protection secured for Onkaparinga communities

The federal government is investing more than $9.5 million for a safety upgrade to the Mount Bold Dam, preparing and preventing Onkaparinga communities from future devastating flood events.

The announcement follows years of advocacy from the local community and City of Onkaparinga.

“The recent floods along Australia’s eastern seaboard have once again demonstrated the devastation that can be wrought by major floods in this country,” Senator McLachlan said when announcing the funding today.

“That’s why we are continuing to make significant investments to protect communities, individuals and businesses from disasters in an increasingly complex natural hazard environment. 

“In 2016, parts of Old Noarlunga were flooded twice in a matter of months, with residents having since reported that in order to include flood protection, their insurance premiums increased by up to 600 per cent.

"This funding will support increasing the level of flood attenuation provided, while Mount Bold Dam is being upgraded, to safely pass the probable maximum flood over the dam’s spillways, without causing it to fail.” 

City of Onkaparinga Acting Mayor Simon McMahon said council was thrilled with the federal government funding through the National Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Program, and the upgrade would help protect the lives and properties of the Old Noarlunga community.

“Securing additional flood protection has been a key focus of council since the funding shortfall was identified in 2019, and it has been the number one priority in our Advocacy Plan, so it's fantastic our hard work and funding commitment has come to fruition,” Acting Mayor McMahon said.

“This decision recognises the community needs to be future proofed from the impacts on the increased risk of flooding caused by climate change, minimising the risk of another devastating flood event in Old Noarlunga.

“A huge thank you to the federal government and Senator McLachlan, who has been instrumental in achieving this outcome. Thanks also to the state government for joining forces with us in the funding application and co-contribution.

“Finally, thank you to the community for making your voices heard, particularly the Old Noarlunga Community Residents Association, which also advocated tirelessly.”

Pam Scanlon, from the Old Noarlunga Community Residents Association (ONCRA) said the funding announcement was an exciting development for Old Noarlunga residents' future.

"The 2016 floods were devastating for Old Noarlunga," she said.
"While the town has flooded before, to varying degrees, it was the speed and level of the water, the flooding of roads first, making evacuation difficult and the lack of warning that is still in the memories of residents today.
"We live close to nature at the entrance to the Onkaparinga Gorge and while we can accept some associated challenges, the historic township and its residents are extremely grateful to be supported by federal, state and local governments with this grant for additional flood mitigation.
"This confidence should allow our community to become even more cohesive and strengthen our part in the modern history of the region. It is an exciting development for our future."
The $325 million Mount Bold Dam Safety Project is part of SA Water’s upgrade of the Mount Bold reservoir dam, which was to provide protection for a one-in-18-year Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) flood event if the reservoir was full.
City of Onkaparinga agreed to join forces with the state government in its application for federal funding in February, and this included a council and state co-contribution of $1.5875 million.
The federal funding means a superior flood option can now be built, offering protection for a one-in-100-year AEP flood event if the reservoir is full.
The project will now provide a level of security for Old Noarlunga residents, alleviating social stress and fear of floods, increasing house prices and reducing insurance premiums.
Council’s downstream infrastructure will now be protected, meaning mitigation options can be removed, saving time and money, and the impact on council staff and resources during major rain events will be reduced.
Council will look to spread its financial commitment over several years to minimise the impact on ratepayers, with the payment to be considered as part of its annual budget and Long Term Financial Plan update process.
Detailed design is currently taking place, with construction currently expected to start in 2023, and take approximately three-and-a-half years.
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Members of the Old Noarlunga Community Residents Association with Deputy Mayor Simon McMahon and Senator Andrew McLachlan alongside the Onkaparinga River at Old Noarlunga.