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Learning our flood lessons, alumni panel at Living Lab

three women standing in an urban exhibition space

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Lee Adendorff
Published
13 December 2022

Three Southern Cross alumni and natural resource management experts will head up the next community panel at the Living Lab Northern Rivers on 27 April.

Part of a series dedicated to flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers, ‘Lessons on managing water in the landscape’ will explore some controversial topics, including the maintenance of historical infrastructure, preventing fish-kills and ‘soft’ engineering to mitigate damage caused by flood water.

Chaired by environmental scientist Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, the panel includes Rous County Council Flood Mitigation Manager, Chrisy Clay, and Director of Habitat Programs at OzFish, Cassie Price.

Ms Clay, a graduate of the Southern Cross environmental sciences program, has worked for decades in the area of floodplain drainage and the management of acid sulfate soils. She said flood mitigation in the Richmond catchment commenced more than a hundred years ago. 

“Before considering what further flood mitigation could occur, there are lessons to be learned from the past.  There’s a lot of benefit in looking back, before looking forward. While our previous attempts at flood mitigation have been positive, they have also created some long-term, complex issues,” she said. 

One of those issues is the impact flood mitigation and drainage has had on the environment.

“We need to urgently look at floodplain management and how we can bring balance back to the landscape to improve our waterways for the communities who depend on them.”

“The Richmond River is one of the most degraded in the state, and a contributing factor are the changes we’ve made to the natural flooding patterns and flow on the floodplain,” said Ms Clay.

Ms Price, also a graduate of the Southern Cross environmental sciences program, said the connection between land management and water quality, especially in the post-flood period, could not be overstated.

“Fishing is an important recreational activity but also a commercial activity for our communities. Fish are very important to our river community.

“Not only were the fish kills we saw after the 2022 floods devastating, so was the loss of the creatures who live within the riverbed, the worms and shells, and the loss of seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh, all critical to a healthy river ecosystem. We need to urgently look at floodplain management and how we can bring balance back to the landscape to improve our waterways for the communities who depend on them,” she said.

Panel chair Professor Reichelt-Brushett, also the President and founding member of Richmond Riverkeepers, said the University and its graduates like Ms Clay and Ms Price were uniquely placed to guide discussion about flood recovery in the Northern Rivers.

“The University has world-leading expertise in water and land management, but we are also members of these flood-affected communities. We combine our scientific expertise with that deep local knowledge. This panel is an opportunity to share these insights and to provoke discussion about where we go from here,” she said.

Event details:

Lessons on managing water in the landscape
A conversation with Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, Southern Cross University, Cassie Price, OzFish and Chrisy Clay, Rous County Council

Thursday, 27 April 2023
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

This is a free event.

The talk will run for 75-90mins, including Q&A

Location: Living Lab Northern Rivers shopfront

11 Woodlark Street, Lismore NSW 2480

Media contact

Lee Adendorff, Head of Content at Southern Cross University +61 429 661 349 or [email protected]