Impacts of climate change on Swan and Canning River foreshores

Infrastructure Australia Business Case

14 Oct 2008

This submission has been prepared by the City of South Perth, one of 21 Local Government Authorities that has river foreshores in the Swan/Canning System. Additional information has been provided by the Swan River Trust, City of Perth, City of Nedlands, City of Belmont, City of Melville, Town of Mosman Park, Tourism WA, WA Department of Planning and Infrastructure and the Wes tern Australian Local Government Association.

The Swan Canning River System is the dominant geographic feature of the Perth metropolitan area with 1.5 million from a total of 2.1 million Western Australians, or 71% of the State’s population living in the system’s w ide r catchment area. By 2030 it is anticipated that 2 million people will live in the catchment area, an increase of 33% that will put further pressure on the system. The rivers are a major focal point for much of the State’s economic development and integral to Western Australia’s identity, heritage and community well being. The economic, social and environmental sustainability of the Western Australian community is at risk due to negative climate change impacts. Specific areas of need are ongoing damage to infrastructure designed to protect the river foreshore from climate and weather conditions and, a lack of a coordinated and appropriately funded response to address foreshore infrastructure deterioration. Infrastructure related to this submission includes riverwalls, groynes, foreshore footpaths and promenades, stormwater drainage, jetties and wave attenuation structures. The stability of non built sections of the system foreshore is also a significant issue, however this area is not covered in this submission due to the nature of the Infrastructure Australia initiative.

The current state/local government response to deteriorating foreshore infrastructure is characterised by grossly inadequate funding levels whereby local governments are competing against each other for limited funds to protect all foreshore infrastructure. The Swan River Trust which administers restorative riverwall and foreshore protection funding on behalf of the State Government, has an annual allocation of only $1 Million to distribute to all 21 river front LGAs. The value of works urgently required, as identified by the Swan River Trust however, is in the order of $85 Million .This, against an historic backdrop where different agencies, government departments and local governments have had varying levels of responsibility for the maintenance of different sections of the foreshore, has resulted in ‘non action’ and even court action between levels of government to determine liability. If this response continues the increasing episodes of severe weather incidents and climate change related issues will impact further on;

• Major transport road and rail links to the Perth CBD, in particular the Kwinana freeway and the Perth - Mandurah Rail link.

• Amenity and economic development of significant foreshore developments in adjacent Local Government Authorities such as those in the Perth CBD, South Perth and Melville.

• The value of the Swan River as an ‘Icon’ to Western Australians and to visitors to Perth

It is not intended that this submission be comprehensive in addressing all aspects of this issue, rather a first step in responding to identified immediate needs as well as a catalyst to develop a sustainable strategy for the future. This submission recommends a two part response to address current and future infrastructure requirements relating to the river foreshores of the Swan Canning system;

1. Addressing identified works including repairing or replacing currently damaged built shoreline infrastructure at an estimated cost of $85.65Million (SRT, 2008 &COSP 2008).

2. The Commonwealth, in partnership with Local and State Government, develop and resource a Regional Response Strategy by conducting a comprehensive infrastructure assessment. This would incorporate stormwater drainage, groynes, jetties, wave attenuation walls and then identify the most appropriate adaptive and mitigation strategies and a financial plan to account for other vulnerable infrastructure on the Swan and Canning Rivers.  

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