Back to top anchor

Floodplain Management Australia National Conference

Congratulations to Ella Harrison and Catherine Goonan for winning the people’s choice poster award at the Floodplain Management Australia conference in Newcastle for their poster titled “Punching the Numbers: Are We Doing Enough?" The abstract of the poster is shown below. To find out more, please contact Ella Harrison:

Punching the Numbers: Are we doing enough?

E Harrison and C Goonan

Historically, the Australian government has spent approximately ten-times more on post-disaster relief than it has on building resilience to natural disasters. Whilst this imbalance has increasingly been recognised, investment in flood mitigation is still comparatively low to that invested in recovery.

Economic appraisal of flood mitigation projects ensures that any investment represents an appropriate use of public funding, as well as being a tool to prioritise projects. For flood mitigation projects, this analysis is based on the quantification of benefits and costs of potential options through benefit cost ratios (BCRs). Whilst any project with a BCR greater than one is considered viable and could theoretically proceed, the prioritisation of projects is often done based on BCRs, and an underestimation of the benefits could see valuable mitigation schemes unable to progress

Flood mitigation projects in Australia commonly result in relatively low benefit cost ratios, typically less than two, and those approaching five or more being highlighted as exemplary (e.g. Roma, Queensland and St George, NSW). Comparatively, the UK government’s flood and coastal erosion capital investment program (approximately £400 million per year) averages 9:1, with numerous projects exceeding beneficial ratios of 10:1.

This paper compares the approaches to economic assessment in the UK and Australia to establish whether it is the components of the assessment influencing the outcomes, that is, are we doing enough to fully capture and quantify the investment benefits, or are local circumstances (population, construction costs, flood behaviour, etc.) substantially different.  

2017 Floodplain Management Australia National Conference