Leading geospatial services provider Woolpert has been recognised for its role in a major flood recovery and resilience initiative in the Northern Rivers.
At the launch of the regional rounds of the 2023 Geospatial Excellence Awards on 24 August, Woolpert celebrated two category wins for the New South Wales region.
Hosted by Australia’s peak professional geospatial body – the Geospatial Council of Australia, the premier awards present a very special opportunity to acknowledge the remarkable achievements of outstanding individuals and organisations.
Woolpert took home industry awards for Community Impact, and Environment and Sustainability, with both recognising a complex bathymetric survey project in the Northern Rivers region. Working with CSIRO, and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Woolpert team were key to the flood mitigation survey, a key part of the Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative.
Charting a course to resilience
The 2022 East Coast floods are Australia’s most expensive natural disaster recorded in history costing more than $5.65billion. The event was caused by extreme rainfall from a slow-moving weather system forming after consecutive La Nina patterns. More than a year later, the impact is still felt with many residents of the Northern Rivers region displaced, yet to move back into their homes. The Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative is helping to afford security to these affected communities through understanding drivers and informing flood resilience projects to anticipate and better prepare for future events.
A $11.4million flood mitigation survey, headed by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, is part of the $150million resilience initiative of NEMA, using science, paired with community insight to inform investment.
As part of this initiative, Woolpert conducted bathymetric survey works of the Richmond and Tweed River catchments, a nominal 800 linear km of riverways in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, to enable development of a hydrodynamic model to inform scenario analysis for long-term planning.
Achieving through teamwork, communication and problem solving
The Woolpert team committed to delivering these outputs is Technical Lead Ross Macdonald, Project Manager Andrew Port, Project Support Officer Alexis Walburn, and the Survey team including Roland Saftenberger, Brett Marr, Josh Egan, Ben Smith, Sarah Iacono, and Ryan Lee. The challenges they faced were many, from unseasonal rains and water flows, to working in very wide channels and shallow streams. They were literally working in uncharted waters.
Community and stakeholder engagement was paramount to identify and prioritise the most effective intervention options. Calling on local knowledge on the catchment and historical perspectives of flooding and hydrological behaviours in the area, residents and councils of the affected areas were consulted by the CSIRO team at varying stages of the project. Woolpert engaged directly with local landowners to access various sections of the river and catchments, with environmental considerations at front of mind.
The capture environment and the upstream extents that were able to be successfully captured were notable, with hydrologic surveys more common for established harbours, channels, lakes, and rivers. The 3D bathymetric datasets will not only build the very first hydrodynamic model in the region but will ultimately aid in paving the road to recovery and building more resilient communities.
With two regional awards in hand, Woolpert will now vie for the prestigious Oceania Awards, announced at next year’s Locate24 Conference.