It is necessary that the Launceston City Council implements comprehensive flood protection measures because of our geographical location.
Launceston was settled at the junction of three rivers - the North Esk, South Esk and Tamar Rivers. These three rivers are fed by a system of rivers and lakes that cover 14 per cent of Tasmania.
Most of Invermay and some parts of Newstead sit within the flood plain — the area which will flood in a natural river system. In fact, in Invermay the ground level is actually below the high tide, and if the flood levees were not in existence some parts of Invermay would be subject to water inundation twice a day with high tide.
The last big flood occurred in Launceston in 1929, when Invermay was devastated and 4000 people were made homeless in just one night. Before that, there were two occasions (1852 and 1863) when the water peaked higher than the 1929 flood. Since then, there have been smaller floods, but nothing as devastating as the one in 1929.
It is a good idea for anyone living in a low lying area in Launceston whether inside or outside the flood levees to make provision for the possibility of a flood.
The Council has put together information on Flooding in Launceston - Tips to protect you, your family, pets and property. This information is principally for people living and working in the suburb of Invermay and to raise general awareness of the flood risk to Launceston.
The Flood Levee Project began in the 1960s; however, the need for a system of levees was identified after the 1929 flood that destroyed many homes in Invermay.
A series of levees - some as high as four metres - were built as part of the Flood Levee Project to protect the low lying areas on the flood plain, separating the city from the rivers. These levees are now being repaired and re-built.
While these levees continue to offer some protection for the city and Invermay, they are also difficult to maintain, as the land they are built on next to the rivers is mostly silt. Silt is a very poor foundation to build on and the levees naturally sink into the ground over time. In fact, the land is so unstable that three levees collapsed just after construction in 1965 and 1971.
Any levee system may fail. Those in Launceston are no exception: they may collapse or water may flow over the top of them, and the adequacy of the system can not be guaranteed. Should the levees fail, some properties in Launceston may be affected by flood waters isolating the property or even rising above the floor level.