Flood recovery programs

We have several clean-up programs to help with the collection and disposal of debris from the March 2021 and February-March 2022 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 and again in February–March 2022 from the Hawkesbury River to the Queensland border. This 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. 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

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

The EPA led the shoreline clean-up with assistance from supporting agencies including Transport for NSW Maritime, Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries, 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.

In response to the February–March 2022 storm and floods, the EPA is continuing the shoreline clean-up program with assistance from supporting agencies and existing contractors. The infographic on the right of this page has more information about how much debris has been collected recently.

Shoreline maintenance program

The Shoreline program for the 2022 floods will move into a maintenance phase to continue collecting debris that emerged from the action of tides, currents, and weather. The maintenance program will continue to collect debris after the initial shoreline clean-up response for at least 6 months.

Land-based clean-up of flood debris program

The land-based program complements the shoreline clean-up of flood debris and focuses on removing man-made flood debris from public flood plains and low-lying public land to help coastal communities north of Sydney to the Queensland border. 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 started in 14 local government areas, Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Central Coast, Hawkesbury, Kempsey Shire, Lismore, Mid Coast, Nambucca Valley, Penrith, Port Macquarie Hastings, Port Stephens, The Hills, and Tweed Shire Councils. Removing the debris will help protect human health and the environment and prevent debris moving if more floods happen. Other focus areas include the Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Northern Beaches, and Richmond Valley.

Local contractors are being used for the clean-up work where possible, and materials will be recycled wherever 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.

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.

Private land clean-up requests

After the initial focus on public land, the land-based program expanded in July 2022 to include the clean-up of eligible large or hazardous man-made debris on private land across flood-affected communities.  This helps those landowners that do not have the skills, capacity, specialist equipment or financial means to remove large or hazardous man-made debris.

The EPA is working with Service NSW so that the community can apply for support under this program through the Service NSW website.

The EPA has appointed MRA Consulting Group to project manage the clean-up of flood debris on public land and eligible large or hazardous debris on private land. 

MRA will assess private land clean-up requests submitted via the Service NSW website.  For further information, call MRA Consulting Group on 0492 941 487, or email the program at  floodwaste@mraconsulting.com.au

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

See the Program Guidelines (PDF 865KB) for more information.

Eligibility

You can request support if:

  • you are a property owner or tenant in an LGA impacted by the:
  • you have man-made debris (produced by humans) on your land as a direct result of the storm and flood event
  • the debris is large or hazardous
  • your property is easily accessible by land (rather than water).

Eligible items

  • Asbestos: asbestos containing materials (10m2 or more of bonded asbestos)
  • Cement: cladding, sheeting, cement mix, concrete, bitumen
  • Chemicals (more than 20 litres or 20 kilograms): household chemicals, hospital chemicals, industrial chemicals, pesticides, other chemicals
  • Engineered timber: treated timber, posts, engineered logs
  • Fencing: fence posts, fence wire, metal fencing, other wiring
  • Fuel (more than 20 litres or 20 kilograms): gas bottles, jerry cans, citronella, petroleum, diesel, other fuels
  • Furniture: couches, tables
  • Mattresses: springs, bed frames
  • Metal: metal posts and wiring, metal sheeting, machinery, shipping containers, vehicles (if uninsured) 
  • Oil (more than 20 litres or 20 kilograms): lubricants
  • Paint (more than 20 litres)
  • Plastic: rigid plastic, plastic tubs
  • Silage bales that are whole and intact or ruptured
  • Whitegoods.

Ineligible items

  • Leaves, driftwood, trees, aquatic weeds, branches, straw bales, soil, sand, creek pebbles and stones, roots, grass
  • Insured vehicles
  • Silage with small volumes of plastic attached or minimal plastic (less than 50% of whole bale covered)
  • Wildlife carcasses; kangaroos, birds, possums, foxes, feral pigs, rodents, other wildlife.

How to request support

Apply on the Service NSW website.

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 removing 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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