Rising water levels: prepare now
LIVING areas in homes on the Swan River need to be built high enough in the future to avoid increasing sea levels from climate change, according to Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins.
“What we need to consider is a minimum height level for living areas while allowing undercrofts, carparking and storage underneath,” Mr Hipkins said.
The Federal Government’s Ozcoasts, an online database that provides information about Australia's coasts, has modelled the river’s highest tides in combination with possible 0.5m. 0.8m or 1.1m sea level rises by 2100 and indicates most low-lying foreshore will be affected.
However, last month, Climate Risk Australia mapping indicated high tides, storm surges and rises combined could reach up to 2.7m, including
Perth, because the Greenland and Antarctic ice shelves were melting quicker. Mr Hipkins said while any rise may not reach those levels, councils
had to be prepared.
“Anyone can now put in a basement along here, which would be an unwise decision at this time,” he said
Riverwall-protected parkland in front of Nedlands homes was marsh before colonisation. Riverwalls that were used to create parks and infrastructure could be the first structures undermined by the effect of global warming.
Mr Hipkins wants a minimum height for living areas in riverside homes up to one block back from the first street.
“If you start early with these things you avoid future costs, and people are already putting car garages underneath their homes,” he said.
The new rule is not in the council’s latest town planning scheme, currently with the WA Planning Commission for comment, but Mr Hipkins said he could introduce it later this year.
The Commission’s policies direct coastal and riverside planning and development to reduce flood risk, but its spokesman said setting floor levels for river flooding was a council responsibility guided by the Swan River Trust and the Department of Water.