Managing floods involves three main types of activities known as prevention (or mitigation), response and recovery. 'Mitigation' describes work before a flood, 'response' explains activities during an event, and 'recovery' explains actions after a flood.
Floodplain management aims to balance the competing objectives of managing floodplains for human needs such as food and energy production, transport and recreation, and flood mitigation, as well as for their biodiversity values.
Many authorities, municipal councils, emergency services and flood-affected communities are involved in the management of floods and floodplains.
- The Victorian Government develops and implements state flood policy. It also supports the Catchment Management Authorities and Melbourne Water, which as Floodplain Management Authorities are accountable for regional issues
- The Commonwealth Government is responsible for national flood management programs
- Local flood and floodplain issues are the responsibility of municipal councils, while landholders are accountable for flood management on their own properties
- Local community knowledge and experience plays a key role in preparing for floods and reducing damage caused by floods
Flood mitigation – DEPI
- The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) leads Victoria's floodplain management policy.
- It develops state legislation and standards for floodplain management. It also provides input to national policy.
- DEPI coordinates the statewide flood database. DEPI also assists local governments to manage floodplains and implement mitigation works to reduce the risk of flooding.
- DEPI facilitates the management of levee systems and the oversight of flood warning systems.
- DEPI also collates flood height and extent mapping data across the state. The data is captured and developed through a number of flood risk assessment investigations and studies. The information is stored as a series of Geographic Information System (GIS) layers, collectively known as the Victorian Flood Database (VFD).
Flood response – State Emergency Service
The Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) is the control agency for flood response. It works with support agencies, such as DEPI, to manage the government's response to flood emergencies.
The SES rescues people from flood and storm emergencies or dangerous situations. It provides advice, information, education and training in emergency management.
Flood recovery – DHS
The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for coordinating flood recovery at the local, regional and state levels.
This includes advice, information and assistance for affected individuals and communities. DHS also coordinates detailed loss and damage assessments.
Regional floodplain management – Catchment Management Authorities
Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) have statutory powers under the Water Act 1989 to manage waterways, floodplains and rural drainage.
The nine CMAs and Melbourne Water operate as Floodplain Management Authorities for their regions.
Melbourne Water is the authority for the Melbourne Metropolitan area, the Werribee and Upper Maribyrnong catchments and catchments which flow into Western Port Bay.
The role of each Floodplain Management Authority is to:
- prepare a Floodplain Management Strategy for their region. The strategy includes: flood mapping, flood studies, floodplain management plans, flood awareness and education and asset management
- coordinate the collection of flood information such as: flood photography, flood heights and flow rates and velocities in times of significant regional floods
- provide input to planning schemes, responding to planning referrals and helping resolve planning issues
- facilitate the implementation of regional flood warning systems
- provide for the conservation of natural resources of regional significance
During a flood emergency, CMAs are responsible for:
- supporting SES on the behaviour and movement of floods
- monitoring regional flood warning systems
- coordinating flood monitoring and collecting data
For further information on the Regional Floodplain Management Strategies, contact the Catchment Management Authority.
National flood management – Commonwealth Government
The Australian Government's role is to:
- create long-term strategies for sustainable management of floodplains
- provide flood forecasting services through the Bureau of Meteorology
- support State Emergency Service capabilities
- provide financial assistance for flood relief under the Natural Disaster Relief & Recovery Arrangements
- contribute funding to flood mitigation infrastructure to protect Victorian communities
The Australian Government Disaster Assist website provides individuals and families access to information about recovery assistance following a disaster.
Flood monitoring and prediction – Bureau of Meteorology
The Bureau of Meteorology is responsible for flood monitoring and prediction.
- meteorological input
- collecting data from rainfall and stream flow data networks
- operating flood prediction models
- preparing and issuing warnings to key agencies and selected media
- providing advisory support to local government during flash floods (local government has the primary responsibility for warnings)
Local floodplain management – local councils
The role of local councils is to:
- develop and implement local floodplain management plans
- to control development on floodplains through their local planning schemes
- provide and manage local community flood mitigation infrastructure
- implement local flood warning systems, including systems for flash flooding
- monitor significant local flood events
Contacts for municipalities can be found on the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure website.
Flood waste management – Environment Protection Authority
The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) works with local councils and DEPI in flood-affected communities, to designate landfill facilities for the disposal of dead livestock.
It works with local councils, farmers and landowners on disposal of waste related to flood events. EPA also responds in situations of large numbers of flood-related fish deaths.
The EPA can be contacted 24 hours a day on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) regarding uncontained oil/petrol/scum spills, fish deaths, or for locations of farm livestock disposal pits.