Business group slams Byron Council

Many streets in Byron Bay’s CBD, including Byron Street, were flooded last week when more than 100mm of rain fell in just a few hours.
Many streets in Byron Bay’s CBD, including Byron Street, were flooded last week when more than 100mm of rain fell in just a few hours.

Last week’s Byron Bay CBD flooding has prompted an angry response from Ed Ahern, president of the town’s peak business group, Byron United.

Mr Ahern said the flooding had caused chaos in the town and businesses in Jonson, Byron and Lawson Streets had been affected.

He said poor drainage was the cause and it had been a problem for many years.

It was ‘disgraceful’ that Byron Council had done nothing about it, he said.

Byron United wanted to know what plans the council had on the drawing board to fix the problem and when would something be done.

Said Mr Ahern: “We’ve gone blue in the face talking about this. Lighthouse Road, bypass, drainage – take your pick which one is worse.”

The flooding was caused by a huge dump of almost 88mm of rain in just over two hours on Tuesday of last week.
Byron United last week wrote to the council’s general manager, Graeme Faulkner, calling for urgent action.

Byron Council’s executive manager of community infrastructure, Phil Holloway, said the flooding was the result of an isolated sudden downpour.

"Flooding of this type is known to occur to Byron Bay town centre and unfortunately is due to aging infrastructure not being able to cope with the volume of water," he said.

Mr Holloway said funding to service a loan of $500,000 was approved as part of a previous year’s special rate variation to address drainage issues in the town centre.

However, he said this amount was significantly less than what was required for long-term improvement works.

A report detailing flooding issues, solutions and cost estimates was planned to be presented to the council in May, he said.

During last week’s down pour Mr Holloway said staff were quick to respond and erect precautionary signage in the areas where water struggled to get away.

He said the water receded quickly and staff had recorded the areas where the water pooled and would be checking the drains for any blockages.

A downpour of this volume would normally have flooded the area around the new Woolworths service station in Shirley Street, but did not occur this time, he said.

Said Mr Holloway: "Council worked closely with the developer during the service station upgrade and as a result the improved drainage design saw no flooding in this area.

"In the past this has been one of the first places to flood in the Byron Bay town centre."

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