Flood debris maintenance program

Our Flood Debris Maintenance Program continues to remove large and hazardous flood debris from land, waterways, shorelines and cane farms across NSW.

The Flood Debris Maintenance Program removes eligible flood debris from land, waterways, shorelines and cane farms from the declared local government disaster areas identified in AGRNs 1012, 1024, and 1034 (Natural disaster declaration areas). The debris is identified through many sources including aerial surveillance, patrols by boat, reports from the community, supporting agencies, including councils, and other stakeholders.

The Program was developed to remove flood debris remaining after the closure of the EPA’s other Flood programs. The Program is being led by the NSW EPA to help communities, councils and our environment continue to recover. The Program is funded under the joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Eligible debris

Large and hazardous man-made items are eligible under the program.

A large item weighs over 25kg or is larger than 1 (one) cubic meter in size. A hazardous material is any substance in a quantity or form that could pose a reasonable risk to individual or community health, the environment, or property including cement, chemicals (Chemicals (more than 20 litres or 20 kilograms): household chemicals, hospital chemicals, industrial chemicals, pesticides, other chemicals), fuel – ((more than 20 litres or 20 kilograms): gas bottles, jerry cans, citronella, petroleum, diesel, other fuels), metal posts and wiring, oil, paint (Paint (more than 20 litres), silage bales.

How does it work?

Applications can be submitted to flood.programs@epa.nsw.gov.au. Applications for the program are open until 31 December 2023.

The NSW EPA has appointed AVCON Australasia and Northern Rivers Marine Services to deliver these clean-up services.

Flood debris is removed using boats, barges, cranes, excavators and hand-picking, it is loaded onto trucks for disposal or taken to a staging area. Fenced waste staging areas may be used as part of the clean-up program to temporarily and safely store debris that is collected before it is taken for recycling or disposal. Materials will be re-used or recycled wherever possible.

Benefits of the program

  • The program will remove the cost and burden for communities still recovering from the flood events and benefit the local environment with the removal of flood debris.
  • Cleaning up large and hazardous flood debris which poses a risk to the environment and community safety.
  • Hazardous waste will be assessed and removed by qualified experts.
  • Debris collected will be separated into waste types to allow for recycling or re-use and diversion from landfills where possible.
  • Clean up focuses on debris that is safe to remove and does not result in additional environmental harm, especially on culturally sensitive sites.

What has been achieved so far?

As of July 2023, the EPA contractors have targeted the Central West region after the devastating floods in November 2022. Contractors have removed:

  • 1,652 m3 from Eugowra, Cudal and Molong in Cabonne Shire Council.
  • 113 m3 from Parkes Shire Council
  • 222 m3 from Forbes Shire Council

To put that in perspective, that is enough waste to fill 29 40-foot shipping containers!

Our contractors have dealt with all kinds of waste, including boats, caravans, water tanks, chemical drums, gas bottles, tyres, hay bales, and even huge shipping containers.

What is happening next?

Contractors will continue to remove flood debris from the Central West and other application sites in disaster declared local government areas. Contractors will also be focusing on cane farms across the Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley LGAs.