Flooding

Townsville is built on a natural floodplain of the Ross and Bohle Rivers. For residents, this means living with the best and worst of our local climate. More than 300 days of sunshine each year can be tempered with our traditional wet season, which runs from November to March each year. Flooding in Townsville is generally caused by heavy rain from a cyclone or rain depression crossing the coastline. This can sometimes result in local flooding to streets, yards and in extreme events, homes.

  • Which areas are likely to be affected by flooding?
    • In the event of a combination of heavy rain, strong winds and high tides, low-lying areas such as Railway Estate, Oonoonba, South Townsville, parts of Hermit Park, and beachside communities need to take extra precaution. This means moving items to higher ground where possible. Avoid parking your car on the street, as saltwater can cause permanent damage.
  • What do homeowners need to do to prepare for tropical rain?
    • The best way to protect your home from the tropical rain is to clean out roof gutters to help prevent rain from flowing into your ceiling and causing extensive damage.

      A checklist has been published by the Queensland Government's EMQ (Emergency Management Queensland) which details further steps you can take in preparing for a flood.

      Council has developed the Storm Tide Evacuation Guide, complete with storm surge zone maps to help residents prepare for storm tide flooding events.

  • What should I look out for if I'm planning to renovate, buy or rent property?
    • Before buying or renting property, or carrying out renovations, residents should seek professional advice to ensure flood risks are fully considered. In low lying areas of the city, some highset houses have been built in underneath with additional living space. Do your research to ensure these renovations have been approved by council. Another area which can be particularly flood prone is under-roof carports which are sometimes 150mm below habitable floor levels.
  • What will council do about water on roads?
    • During wet season, water may build up over low lying roads. However, it is important to note that roads built since the 1960's are designed to channel water away whenever flows exceed the capacity of the underground drainage system. This is standard practice where communities are built on natural flood plains, and in most instances, the flooding is short-lived. Council will barricade roads if they are deemed by the police to be unsafe.
  • What impact will king tides have?
    • King tides are a natural phenomena that result in lower lying sections of Townsville being inundated, namely around Railway Estate, South Townsville and parts of Hermit Park. The biggest king tides usually take place in January and February, however if they coincide with heavy rain, water levels tend to be even higher than the predicted level. If you live in a suburb prone to king tides, you should heed warnings and take precautionary action by moving items to higher ground where necessary. Motorists should also exercise caution and avoid driving through saltwater on the roads wherever possible.

      To prevent the entry of water under doors, you can also use plastic shopping bags or garbage bags partly filled with sand or soil. These will provide a good seal if packed tightly.

  • How does the Ross River dam operate during flooding events?
    • One of the Townsville's biggest flood protection measures is the Ross River Dam which was upgraded in 2007. This helps to protect the city from large-scale flooding from the Ross River.Under strict operational procedures set down by the Queensland Government's dam safety regulator, the flood gates are automatically triggered open once the dam has gone beyond its storage capacity.

      Depending on the amount of water flowing into the dam, the gates are opened to varying levels that allow for the controlled and safe release of water.

      This is designed to protect the integrity of the dam.

      Under typical operating conditions, the operation of the Ross River Dam gates does not cause downstream flooding.

  • What does council do to prepare for wet season?
    • Prior to wet season, and during heavy rainfalls, council crews conduct a big clean up of drains, culverts, inlet pits and grates across the city to ensure local flooding is minimised wherever possible. Before king tide events, council crews also inspect and ensure the proper operation of all tidal valves and gates to assist in flood mitigation. Capital works programs each year also allow for strengthening of roads through asphalting and insitu stabilisation to make them more resistant to water damage.

  • What is council doing to reduce the impact of localised flooding?
    • Given that Townsville sits on a natural floodplain, it will be impossible to flood-proof the entire city. However, Townsville City Council recognises there is work that can be done that includes identifying priority flood mitigation options in areas where flood water enters houses and businesses. By examining which options deliver the most benefit for the community, the council will be better able to target its resources. To assist with the development of flood mitigation strategies, council would like to be informed of properties affected by flooding. If your property is affected by flooding, please email your details through to us at enquiries@townsville.qld.gov.au

Sewage overflows

During the wet season, sewer overflows can occur due to the extra pressure placed on the sewerage network from the large inflow of stormwater (rain runoff). The sewer system is designed to take five times the normal dry weather flow. However, this can often be exceeded in intense rainfall events because of stormwater inflow.

  • What will council do to rectify this problem?
    • Council crews will attend to affected properties as soon as possible, where they will redirect overflows away from the residence where needed and where possible.

      They will also carry out a clean up of the area, including dilution and disinfection.

  • What if the overflow occurs within the home?
    • Council crews will attend to the affected property as soon as possible to stop the internal overflow.

      They will also clean and disinfect the contaminated area.

  • What is council doing to prevent these sewage overflows from occurring?
    • Council has been carrying out an extensive program ahead of wet season to better protect the city against sewage overflows.

      In big rainfall events, overflows are inevitable but council has been undertaking a range of actions to minimise the impact and number of incidences.

      This includes a smoke testing program – which is progressively being rolled out across the city - to pinpoint and fix areas that can cause sewage overflows.

      This includes broken manholes, illegal property connections (and those in poor condition), and submerged manholes in flooded areas.

      Other work includes installation of pressure gauges at pump stations, relining of sewerage mains, and the purchase of generators to provide emergency power supply at some of the city’s pump stations.

  • My toilet isn’t flushing – what is the problem?
    • If water rises to the top of the toilet bowl and drains away very slowly, then air locking may be the problem.  If the drainage system is full, the air can’t go into the vent pipe. This creates an air bubble and that blocks the drain.
  • How do I fix air-locking?
    • The air can be relieved from the system by placing a flat ended object (such as a screw driver) between the rubber ring and the pipe on the pan connector behind the pedestal. Air escaping will be heard. This will only work if you do not have a concealed bend pedestal.

For more information, please contact Customer Service Centre on 13 48 10 or send an email to Townsville Water.