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Community group dives deep on flooding

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The year 2050 might seem far away, but it’s already on Swansea residents’ minds.

Flooding is a major issue in the area, both now and into the future, given that Swansea is one of Lake Macquarie’s lowest-lying suburbs, making it more prone to sea level rise and tidal inundation.

As it stands, some streets flood when king tides combine with major rain events, as was the case for Cheryl Daley when the April super storm hit in 2015, encroaching on her brick home near Swansea jetty.

“It came up to the gate and my front yard was saturated,” she says.

Swansea Bridge and the Pacific Highway are other areas of concern, as well as the impact of groundwater on homes, but as a local Community Working Group is quickly discovering, there’s no quick fix nor one-size-fits-all solution.

Ms Daley is one of about a dozen residents in the group assisting Lake Macquarie council to develop a Local Adaptation Plan for the waterfront suburb and surrounds, including Caves Beach.

She says each issue is “married” to the next and the aim is to figure out which measures to take and in what order.

“The Swansea Bridge needs to be raised, but so too does the Pacific Highway,” she tells Newcastle Weekly. “And you can’t raise the roads without raising homes.”

Over the past 12 months, the Community Working Group has received 58 submissions – via public meetings, letterbox drops and the Shape Lake Mac online flood map tool – with ideas to tackle predicted sea level rise.

These suggestions and more will be fleshed out at a community drop-in session on Tuesday 6 August from 4pm to 6.30pm at The Swansea Centre.

Among the shortlisted options up for discussion is elevating Swansea’s retail precinct.

Lake Macquarie council’s manager environmental systems, Dean Chapman, says the aim is to assess the hazards and impacts of current and future flood risks.

“No one has a crystal ball, but by thinking about what the situation could be like in 2050 or even 2100, we can start factoring sea level rise and tidal inundation into future development and infrastructure,” he says.

“Now is the time to start thinking about how we can prepare our homes, our businesses, our community and our lifestyle.”

Anyone is welcome to drop in for more information or to give feedback.

There will be a short presentation at 5pm and light refreshments will be served.

Book online at eventbrite.com.au

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