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Stories of Water Sector Resilience

Ping pong balls, air-lifts, sewer fountains and temporary switchboard rooms were all featured in the Untold Stories of Water Sector Resilience; a Queensland Branch Technical Event held on 31 August to look back at some of the experiences and learnings from the flood events that hit greater south-east Queensland in the first half of 2022.

Proudly sponsored and hosted by AECOM at a number of their Queensland offices, the event featured stories from Peter Manning of Gympie Regional Council, Cody Bemis from Unitywater, and Vanessa Thompson from Urban Utilities.

Peter Manning opened the event by describing his experience managing the water and wastewater services of Gympie Regional Council during the multiple flood events that impacted their community.

Through hurling ping-pong balls, a beach ball and the threat of a watermelon, Cody Bemis from Unitywater described what it was like managing the response to flooding across the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay when issues, alerts and customer complaints come at you thick fast. Particularly noteworthy was the experience of a sewer pump station turned lake-fed water feature and the commandeering by the responding field crew of a grateful customer’s canoe.

Finally, Vanessa Thompson shared some examples of how flood resilience investments following the 2011 flood event fared in 2022, including the switchboard raising program, incorporating deployable switchroom solutions and assets, and how to understand and prepare for which assets you are willing to leave behind when an event hits.

The presentations attracted a diverse range of questions and discussion from the 50-strong audience and those watching remotely. A key takeaway from the session was that every flood is unique in its impacts, the approaches to response and recovery and that no two stories and experiences are the same.