What to do before a flood:
What to do during a flood:
- Check the BOM website for updates on flood warnings in your area
- Stay indoors and listen to your ABC Radio Newcastle
- Make contact with your neighbours and share information
- Never walk or drive through flood water
- If your home is damaged or flooded call the SES on 132 500
- Take the advice of the NSW State Emergency Service SES if an evacuation order is given
What to do after a flood:
- Contact your home insurer if your home is flood damaged
- Clean up your property and put waste at the kerbside for collection by City of Newcastle
- Contact City of Newcastle if you have trees that are damaged by the event and require lopping
How to use the interactive map:
- Read the explanation of the flood maps shown and then click close.
- Type your address into the search window at the top left and press enter. Once you have identified your property, a polygon should highlight it.
- Click on your property anywhere in the polygon to read the flood risk.
- A separate window should pop-up explaining the flood risk at your location. You must click through the explanation of flood risk using the arrows at the top of the window.
- Zoom out and in by using the scroll wheel on your mouse and investigate the flood risk in your local area. Is your street at risk of flooding? Is your local park, shops or school at risk of flooding?
- Investigate the flood risk at your work, school or playground by repeating the process above.
Disclaimer: The City of Newcastle (CN) provides this mapping in good faith for flood education purposes. Any errors, omissions or anomalies in the information shall not incur any liability to CN whatsoever.
Before the event
Our role is to investigate the risk of flooding and to prepare for future floods through land use planning, development control and flood mitigation works. It is not possible to predict when, where, or how big the next flood will be. However, we can estimate the likelihood of different sized floods and their consequences so we can plan ahead.
City of Newcastle is working on solutions to manage flooding with grant assistance from the government to implement actions adopted in our Flood Management Plans.
During the event
The State Emergency Service (SES) is the lead emergency management agency during floods.
Our role during a flood is to assist emergency management departments such as the SES, Rural Fire Service and NSW Police.
After the event
It’s our job to lead the clean-up tasks after a flood event and coordinate repairs to damaged public assets such as roads, parks, trees and drainage. We also apply for funding from the government to cover public asset damages.
What the City of Newcastle is doing to reduce flood risk
We’re currently implementing the recommendations from the Floodplain Risk Management Plans (FRMP) for the Newcastle City Wide and Wallsend Commercial Area. Newcastle was built on a floodplain by European settlers and the only way to eliminate all flood risk is to relocate the city, but this is very expensive and difficult.
However, there are measures that can be applied to reduce flood risk in the long term, as redevelopment takes place. There are no easy solutions and the most effective means of reducing risk is to apply a range of measures such as flood education, planning controls, emergency management, on-site detention, and drainage improvements.
Specific Implementation Actions
Flash Flood Alert Service
Register online for our flood alert service.
Wallsend Commercial Area FRMP Implementation Study
After the floods in June 2007, City of Newcastle undertook flood studies and made the FRMP to minimise future flooding. The plan recommended $44M of flood management actions, including the substantial widening of the Ironbark Creek channel through the commercial area, and upgrading the Minmi Road bridge to improve the passage of flood water.
The total cost to implement the FRMP was prohibitive and would not easily attract funding. An Implementation Study was then needed to investigate more cost-effective options. These cost-effective solutions included the removal of the Tyrrell and Boscawen Street road bridges, and replacing those with pedestrian bridges. and the modification of the Nelson Street road bridge. After much review, these recommendations were considered too disruptive to traffic and commercial businesses of the town, and as an alternative, the replacement of all three road bridges is being investigated and implemented.
Morgan-Selwyn Street Floodway
The Morgan–Selwyn Street floodway in Merewether is a high hazard flood precinct. City of Newcastle worked with the Water Research Laboratory (WRL) of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW Australia to assess a Voluntary Purchase (VP) scheme for the Morgan-Selwyn floodway. VP involves the purchasing of private property that is subject to significant flood risk where no other feasible options of physically reducing the flood risk are available.
After significant research, it was found that in a flood event greater than the 10% AEP (one-in-10-year flood), private properties could be significantly damaged and 11 properties would require purchase using public funds to reduce the flood risk to manageable levels. Currently, we don’t have the funds to implement the VP scheme, so we are working on implementing emergency management measures such as the Flash Flood Alert Service, Flood Signage and Flood Education.
Flood Education Campaign
We have adopted City Wide Flood Mapping and an prepared an interactive flood map to increase flood risk awareness of residents.
Low Lying Areas - Phase 1 - Sea & Groundwater Monitoring
On 25 July 2017, the elected Council adopted a strategic position paper (the Paper) to protect low-lying areas from future flood risks associated with climate change. The Paper includes a list of actions (phase 1 -6) that are triggered if increments of sea level rise are recorded. Phase 1 was triggered upon adoption of the Paper and requires sea and groundwater level monitoring.
We have worked with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) to establish a benchmark and methodology for the measurement of mean sea level rise. The Paper has set the benchmark based on mean sea level at the time of its adoption.
City of Newcastle and the DPIE have since investigated the behaviour of sea levels. The DPIE has recommended using the Fort Denison tide gauge in Sydney for the monitoring because it is the longest publicly available record in the southern hemisphere, and the site holds data of the highest accuracy in NSW. There is not reported to be any difference in sea level rise between Sydney and Newcastle.
Our monitoring suggests sea leaves are rising slowly and there is at least 10 to 25 years until Phase 2 is reached. Phase 2 requires installation of improved flood gates and drainage outlets, high powered pumps, and the design of the levee for construction in Phase 3 (0.2m sea level rise).
In relation to groundwater, wells have been installed in March 2018 and a long-term groundwater monitoring program will commence to better understand groundwater behaviour in the study area.
Throsby Creek floodplain - Maryville early 1900's
City of Newcastle has carried out flood studies in the major local catchments of Newcastle to estimate:
- Flood extent
- Flood depth and velocity
- Flood level
- Provisional hazard
These studies are the first step in the process of planning for future floods and have resulted in the creation of the Flood Management Plans.
Throsby, Styx and Cottage Creek Catchments
The Throsby, Styx and Cottage Creek catchments have been investigated under a combined Flood Study that also includes local drainage networks of the Newcastle CBD. The catchments are mainly urban and are drained by pits, pipes and open concrete channels. These catchments all drain to the Newcastle Harbour, leaving low-lying areas prone to inundation during east coast lows, when heavy rainfall combines with elevated ocean levels.
Ironbark Creek Catchment
The Flood Study investigates flood behaviour for the urban areas upstream of Hexham Swamp where Ironbark Creek drains the suburbs of Elermore Vale and Wallsend. The creek is predominantly a natural channel with associated floodplain of open spaces and sports fields. During rare storm events, these floodplains can spill into urban areas causing overland flow flooding, resulting in significant flood risk for the Wallsend CBD.
Dark Creek Catchment
The upper catchment of Dark Creek includes the bushland behind Jesmond Park and the suburbs of Callaghan and North Lambton. The capacity of the drainage system and open channel is exceeded during large storm events, and flooding of residential areas and the Jesmond commercial area will occur in moderate to large flood events.
Lower Hunter River
A Lower Hunter River Flood Study found that there are parts of the Newcastle Area vulnerable to Hunter River floods including Beresfield, Tarro, Hexham, Shortland and Sandgate. More recent residential development in Fletcher and Maryland fringes Hexham Swamp and has been built above the predicted flood levels of the Hunter River to reduce flood risk.
The harbour of Newcastle experiences elevated sea levels in East Coast Low events. These factors can combine to cause storm surge up Newcastle Harbour that floods low areas along the foreshore. Suburbs such as Stockton, Carrington, Wickham, Honeysuckle and Kooragang are particularly sensitive to storm surge.
Redevelopment of infrastructure and private property is happening in flood prone land surrounding Cottage Creek. City of Newcastle has undertaken a detailed study of flood behaviour in the area around Marketown, Wickham Interchange and Honeysuckle to inform how flood risks can be reduced.
A number of studies have been completed over the years prior to the preparation of the flood studies. Supporting documents include:
- PBP (1996). Lower Hunter Valley Floodplain Management Study: Assessment of Strategic Options for Community Consultation (DRAFT). Prepared for Port Stephens and the City of Newcastle.
- PBP (1997). Lower Hunter Valley Floodplain Management Study: Volume A - Assessment of Strategic Options for Community Consultation Summary Report (DRAFT). Prepared for Port Stephens and the City of Newcastle.
- PBP (2001). Lower Hunter Valley Floodplain Management Study: Volume B - Planning Implementation Strategy (DRAFT). Prepared for Port Stephens and the City of Newcastle.
- PBP (2001). Lower Hunter Valley Floodplain Management Study: Volume B - Planning Implementation Strategy (DRAFT), Summary Report. Prepared for Port Stephens and the City of Newcastle.
- PBP (2007). Wallsend Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan. Prepared for the City of Newcastle.
A Flood Risk Management Plan (the Plan) allows forward planning of flood prone land utilising these steps:
- Identify and assess options to reduce flood risk
- Social, economic and environmental assessment of options
- Ranking options
- Recommend options for the Plan
- Adopt the Plan
- Apply for funding from Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) for implementation.
Our elected Council adopted two plans to implement flood risk management options in Newcastle.
View the adopted City Wide Flood Mapping.
Other information can also be found in the following management plans and study:
View further information
Newcastle City Wide
The Newcastle City Wide Flood Risk Management Plan is currently due to be reviewed, the first step in this review is to update the underlying Flood Study as part of the NSW Floodplain Development Manual framework.
The purpose of the Plan is to set out short- and long-term actions to manage the risks of flooding in the Newcastle Local Government Area; from river flooding (such as the Hunter River floods of 1955), from flash flooding (such as experienced in the "Pasha Bulker" storm of 8 June 2007) and ocean flooding (from storm surge and the potential impacts of sea level rise).
Further information on the Throsby, Styx and Cottage Creek Flood Study can be found on City of Newcastle's Have Your Say webpage.
Wallsend Commercial Area
The Wallsend Commercial Centre has unique and significant flood risks because it is in the middle of the Ironbark Creek floodplain. City of Newcastle has been investigating the risk of flooding in Wallsend over many years and completed a comprehensive flood study in 2008 using historical flood data following the June 2007 flood event. Then in 2009 the Wallsend Commercial Centre Floodplain Risk Management Plan (the Plan) was adopted.
The Plan outlines measures to reduce flood risk in the Wallsend Commercial Centre. It should be noted that the Plan investigated measures on a high level that would be subject to more detailed investigations into the costs, benefits and viability of undertaking structural works.
Since the adoption of the Plan, City of Newcastle has undertaken the following actions:
- Commenced a Flash Flood Alert service for the Ironbark Creek catchment in July 2015
- Completed an Implementation Study of structural options to reduce flood risk in the commercial area in 2015
- Prepared more detailed flood risk mapping to better inform planning controls for development in the catchment in the City Wide Plan in 2012
- Constructed Tyrrell Street bridge in March 2020
- Commenced detailed design for the upgrade of Boscawen Street bridge
- Commenced upgrade of culvert at Cowper Street.
City of Newcastle is also investigating other flood mitigation measures for the Wallsend commercial area.
It’s our job to manage the safety, risk, and maintenance of the Minmi Road Detention basin.
To comply with the Dams Safety Regulation 2019, we develop an annual Dam Safety Report to share with residents.
Since its construction in 1986, the dam structure has not reached its full capacity. In 2018, the dam was strengthened with minor drainage works and work on its upstream side.
What is flooding
Flooding is when rivers, creeks, or channels are overtopped and spill onto dry land.
What causes flooding?
There are 3 types of flooding that can affect Newcastle including:
- Flash Flood: Intense rainfall over the local catchment making runoff that exceeds the capacity of the drainage network causing flooding quickly and with limited warning. These floods are common for the local waterways in Newcastle such as Throsby, Styx, Cottage, Dark and Ironbark Creeks.
- Hunter River Flood: Sustained heavy rainfall in the Hunter River catchment causing high river levels that spill out into the low-lying areas of the floodplain like Hexham, Beresfield and Sandgate.
- Storm Surge: Oceanic storms on the coast causing elevated water levels, severe winds and large waves, common in Newcastle Harbour and low-lying suburbs such as Stockton, Carrington, Wickham, Maryville and Islington.
We can’t tell exactly when or how severe a flood will be, however our weather forecasts can make predictions. It is more difficult to predict flash flooding because the event happens so suddenly, so it is difficult to send out warnings.
What is flash flooding
Flooding which is sudden and unexpected as a result of heavy rainfall in local catchments.
What is a floodplain?
Land that has been formed by flooding over time. Much of Newcastle has been built on floodplains. This was evidenced in the floods of June 2007.
What is overland flow?
Overland flow occurs when runoff from heavy rainfall runs across the land either before it enters a waterway or after a waterway breaks its banks. Overland flow tends to affect localised areas during flash flooding.
What is flood prone land?
Land that would be affected by the probable maximum flood. Only land that is above these levels is truly flood free.
Please Note: The insurance industry has its own definitions of flooding (and stormwater) and you should make your own enquiries about how your insurance company classifies flooding (and stormwater), and how this relates to your insurance provisions.
What can I do about a local drainage problem?
Local drainage refers to the pit and pipe network that drains urban areas to the nearest creek or open channel, and usually cannot withstand flooding.
Local drainage problems can occur anywhere and are not included in City of Newcastle’s floodplain management planning. However, if the street drainage system is overflowing more regularly, there may be a problem that we need to have a look at. If you notice drainage issues, please contact us.
City of Newcastle is working on identifying areas where additional pits or pipes may assist with flooding. Once identified, it will be prioritised in the works program.
What is floodplain management?
Floodplain management is undertaking a broad range of activities on a floodplain to ensure flood risks are identified and managed. There are many different aspects of floodplain management. These include:
- convening a Floodplain Management Committee to ensure floodplain management. This should include stakeholders of local government, state government departments and community representatives
- calculating flood information such as heights, extents and potential risks to life and property of flooding
- finding and evaluating complete systems of managing the risks
- consulting with the community when planning for floods
- Councillors adopting a Floodplain Risk Management Plan
- finding the funding and resources needed to implement this Plan over time.
Why does flooding occur?
Flooding is a natural event that occurs in all parts of Australia. In general, flooding is a rare event. The nature of flooding may change with climate change and human activity on catchments and topography.
Flooding can result in property damage and even loss of life. Newcastle and its suburbs were built on natural floodplains so there is a constant risk of flooding in most areas of Newcastle.
Who is responsible for managing floods?
Flood management is a shared responsibility. Owners and occupiers of flood prone properties are required to play a significant role in flood awareness, preparedness of your property and appropriate flood response.
Management of large scale flood events is a shared responsibility between Government and the community.
The SES deal with flood response and recovery and the preparation of Local Flood Plans to guide tresidents and businesses in flood events. Councils also assist with recovery efforts to ensure affected public assets are safe and waste is collected from flood affected properties.
Councils are responsible for the preparation of Floodplain Risk Management Plans to identify the level of flood risk and what options are available for risk management.
Can flooding be solved in Newcastle?
There will always be flood risk in Newcastle. The city’s drainage system was only designed to cope with frequent rainfall. Rebuilding the city’s drainage system would require massive changes to the city that would make many suburbs unrecognisable.
Is my property flood affected?
To find out if your property is potentially at risk of flood, you can view the maps of the City Wide Floodplain Risk Management Plan or apply for a Flood Information Certificate.
What is the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF)?
The PMF is the largest flood that could possibly occur. It is a very rare and improbable flood. There have been some historical floods in Australia that have approached the magnitude of a PMF.
What is the 1 in 100 year flood?
A ‘1 in 100 year’ flood is an extreme flood event that is estimated to occur once in every 100 years, based on historical data. However, it is impossible to know when flood events will occur, as some parts of Australia have received numerous '1 in 100 year floods' in one decade. We should better refer to a flood that has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring in any given year, or a flood that has a 1 in 10 chance of occurring in any given year – and so on.
Did the June 2007 floods change City of Newcastle's flood classification of my property?
Our knowledge of the extent of potential flood risks has been growing over many years as Flood Studies have been carried out over the Local Government Area. While the June 2007 flood event confirmed City of Newcastle's flood maps of potential flood risks in many areas, it has not been found necessary to change mapping of potential flood risks as a result of these floods.
How will flooding affect the value of my property?
The market determines the value of any property. Individual owners should seek their own valuation advice if they are concerned that the flood risk estimation available from City of Newcastle may influence their property value.
Can I get house and contents insurance if my house is at risk of flooding?
Yes. The information used by insurance companies to offer flood insurance and set premiums has been supplied by City of Newcastle to the Insurance Council of Australia. This information has been prepared through the various Flood Studies undertaken by City of Newcastle. You should confirm the specific details of your current insurance situation about flooding directly with your insurer.
Will I be able to get a home loan if my house is at risk of flooding?
Property owners who are concerned about their ability to obtain a loan should clarify the situation with their own lending authority.
Will clearing creeks prevent flooding?
Clearing creeks will enable more water to flow but will not prevent flooding during rare floods. Creeks can only take so much water before they overflow regardless of any debris or vegetation. During rare floods, the whole of the floodplain is activated and more water flows on the floodplain than in the creek or river.