I make no claim to be an engineer, hydrologist, geographer or any other type of expert on topics of construction, water flows, riverways, dams, bridges or anything really at all, and praise the Lord for that because it means that I will never have to appear as a witness at a Commission of Inquiry or two into a flood caused by human error and have to cross my fingers behind my back and say ‘it wasn’t my fault it was his’ while pointing at some other poor mug in the room.
But I do recall that it wasn’t too long ago that the natural waterways of South-East Queensland were altered so that corporations could catch, store and sell us H2O that once upon a time used to fall from the air for free, and as an avid follower of flood inquiries I am aware that some harsh judges blamed the rerouting of the rivers for the ‘weather event’ – in Spain they[re plain and call it rain – that swamped Brisbane’s CBD.
Strangely enough I also remember being in the capital city a couple of years ago to witness a massive surge of water – caused by drought-fearing clowns deciding not to drain the dams and leaving them so full that when the ‘weather event’ came they had no choice other than to open the floodgates or f*ck the dam completely – came up and over the banks of the Vegas river and swamped most of South Brisbane and the better part of the CBD.
My old Dad reckons I was also there in ’74 when the city flooded, but I was too young to remember that one.
The point is though that the Brisvegas River is prone to getting as full as a boot when it pissed down rain for a few weeks and going up and over the sides, and when that happens even uneducated blokes from Geebung like me know that the law of cause and effect kicks in and as sure as sculling a bottle of Bundy in an evening means a hangover the next day the next thing that follows is a flood.
Now we may not have had a faculty of water engineering and flow management at the Bunger State School, but we did have Downfall Creek, and on a Sunday when your Mum said ‘kids Dad’s had a hard week at work and needs a quiet nap, so piss off down to the park and don’t come back until dinner time’ while Dad winked and grinned like the Cheshire Cat we didn’t stop to ask ‘well how come he’s just put Barry White on the record player, we simply grabbed our jam jars and guppy nets and bolted out the door and headed straight down to the creek.
There we’d indulge in all manner of idyllic childhood pursuits like catching turtles, reading porn mags our mate had filched from under his father’s bed, smoking cigarettes we’d stolen from our grandad, and having riotous rock fights with the wankers from Wavell Heights camped on the other side of the waterway. We regarded it as essential training for the hunting, fishing, shooting and rooting teenage years ahead, and went at it with gusto.
Later, as the light began to fade over Marchant Park, we would set to work on constructing our alibi for the arvo misspent. Our story always was that we were fishing for guppies all day, so we had to catch some to take home to back it up, but given the lateness of the hour and the certainty of our old man’s belt across our arse if we weren’t sitting down at the lino table in the kitchen right on the dot of six we couldn’t afford to chance landing them the old fashioned way in the half hour we had left.
So the bunch of us would quickly get to work constructing a weir across the creek, the idea being that Downfall’s flow would narrow and its water level rise and then getting hold of the guppies as evidence to back up our bullshit tale about the afternoon’s innocent activities would quite literally be as simple as catching fish in a bucket. It worked every time too.
A long winded tale its been, to be sure to be sure, and thanks for sticking with it, bit there is a point to it and here it is.
Brisbane’s CBD during the 2011 floods – b-b-b-b-baby you ain’t seen nothin’ yet
I might not know much about almost anything at all, but I know what happens when you build an obstruction across a waterway and artificially alter and narrow its natural course. The water hits the weir walls you’ve just built and rises. Quickly. The water that can get through the slimmed down gap runs faster, but if there’s lots of it then it has nowhere to go, except up.
It was never usually a problem down at Downfall Creek because the normal water levels were heaps lower than the top of the banks, but there was a reason for that, and the reason was that tens of millions of years of natural ‘weather events’ – did you know the oldest fish fossil found in Australia was dug up from the Zillman Waterholes? True story – had resulted in the banks becoming high enough to cope when sustained torrential rain cause the creek to suddenly and massively rise.
Despite natural evolution’s best efforts though, sometimes when it pissed down rain for weeks the banks still broke and Seventh Brigade Park would get flooded and Newman Road would be cut.
The Queens Wharf reach of the Brisbane River in its current natural form
So what’s going to happen to the Queens Wharf reach of the BrisVegas river, which doesn’t have high banks and where the water’s natural flow is not much lower than the street, after the faux integrated casino resort crew extend their land grab half away across the city creek to Southbank?
The Integrated Casino Resort Precinct passed into law by the Palaczszuk Government. This is not a proposal – this is the real deal. Where did half our river go? And where is all the floodwater going to flow?
What do you reckon Einstein?
It’s gunna fucking flood isn’t it?
Big time. Bigger than ever before. The city’s going to go under, and given that there’s no way that any bastard can cut a concourse through the CBD there’s no way to stop it except one.
Not to build the bloody weir at all.
Have a think about that one between races tomorrow will ya.
And have a great weekend. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain.