Dungog flood warning system installed

Did you hear what sounded like an air raid siren last Wednesday?

This was the testing of the siren component of the Dungog flood warning system.

Dungog Shire Council last week installed what appears to be a simple tower behind the Alison Court units, which has the technology to operate the system. The tower is connected to a water level gauge installed in the stormwater drain which runs through the area which was the central location of the devastating 2015 flood.

This water level gauge continuously monitors the water level in the drain as well as the rate at which it rises, providing a continuous feed of data to the Bureau of Meteorology. It is capable of sending text message alerts to authorities and setting off the warning siren when certain trigger levels are reached.

The addition of the siren will give the community an alert, particularly at night time, that flood conditions are such that evacuation may be required.

Paul Minett

According to council's manager of Environmental Services, Paul Minett, the system has been designed to be simple but to effectively warn people based on the information gained from the Dungog Flood Study.

"The system is designed to protect lives and give people in the Dungog township adequate warning to be prepared and to evacuate when extreme flood triggers are met," he said.

"The addition of the siren will give the community an alert, particularly at night time, that flood conditions are such that evacuation may be required."

SES and council personnel will receive automated SMS messages from the system when dangerous trigger levels are being approached. The response authority can set the siren system off remotely by SMS or manually at the tower.

The system will automatically activate when the water level or its rate of rise hits a predetermined trigger which is configured into the system. If activated, the siren will sound continuously for five minutes before ceasing for 15 minutes.

"This system is new and it is important that the community be given instruction as to how it works and what the warning signals actually mean," Mr Minett said.

"Educational material and a community event is being organised to launch the flood warning system and this will be delivered in the next few months."

The Dungog Early Flood warning system is funded in part by the NSW Flood plain management grants program and is a partnership between Dungog Shire Council, SES, Bureau of Meteorology and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.