Flood recovery programs

We have several clean-up programs to help with the collection and disposal of debris from the 2021 storms and floods.

2022 storm and flood updates

If you are impacted by the 2022 floods, contact Service NSW, which is providing a one-stop shop for people and businesses to access all available recovery services. Find out more.

New South Wales experienced severe storms and flooding in March 2021 from the Hawkesbury River to the Queensland border. This natural disaster led to significant amounts of man-made and natural flood debris in rivers, estuaries, and adjacent coastlines in NSW. The Australian government declared many parts of the east coast a natural disaster zone. The EPA has been leading several clean-up programs to ensure that flood generated debris on shorelines and in waterways is removed in a safe, effective, and efficient manner. Clean-up is being undertaken by specialist contractors. 

Shoreline clean-up program

Man removing flood debris from trees along the Hawkesbury River, after the 2021 floods

Contractor removing flood debris from trees along the Hawkesbury River, after the 2021 floods. Credit: EPA

The EPA led the shoreline clean-up with assistance from supporting agencies including Transport for NSW Maritime, the then Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) Science, Economics and Insights, New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Public Works Advisory (PWA) and Local Government. The program commenced in April 2021 and was completed in November 2021. Approximately 3,160 cubic metres of debris from several coastal river systems from Sydney to the Queensland border was removed.

Shoreline maintenance program

The Shoreline program has now moved into a maintenance phase. This maintenance program, which will run for six months, is cleaning-up debris that has moved or emerges on shorelines.

Land-based clean-up of flood debris program

The next stage of flood clean-up is underway to help coastal communities north of Sydney to the Queensland border remove man-made flood debris deposited on public land. The program will assist communities and local governments remove flood debris from flood plains and low-lying public land. Aerial surveillance and reports from the public to the EPA’s 24-hour Environment Line identified where man-made flood debris remains on public land. Plastics, silage, metal, tyres, vehicles and even boats have been found.

This clean-up will start in ten local government areas, Port Macquarie/Hastings, Bellingen, Nambucca Valley, Kempsey Shire, Port Stephens, Central Coast, Mid Coast, Hawkesbury, the Hills and Penrith. Removing the debris will help protect human health and the environment and stop debris floating off if more floods happen.

Local contractors are being used for the clean-up work where possible and materials will be recycled where possible. Local land managers may be eligible to be reimbursed for clean-up costs where they have already cleaned up eligible debris. Local land managers can also request clean-up of newly found debris under the program. See the Program Guidelines (PDF 865KB) for more information.

Safety is a primary focus for the program, which is expected to run through until May 2022. Any hazardous waste such as asbestos will be assessed and removed by qualified experts.

Submerged debris program

The Submerged debris program will contribute to navigational safety in rivers for the community and industry. The program includes checking high traffic parts of rivers in flood impacted areas using sonar surveys to locate and identify submerged debris, and removal of debris that poses a hazard as determined by Transport for NSW Maritime.

Corrugated iron debris from the 2021 Hawkesbury River floods
Debris from the 2021 Hawkesbury River floods
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