Costly Australian flooding damaged sewage systems, too
January 14, 2011

The very costly flooding in northeastern Australia did a lot of damage to the region's infrastructure, leaving behind what they think could be two years' worth of repairs, including colossal damage to wastewater systems. Even worse for the region's economy, the failure of some wastewater systems appears to have contaminated some of the coal mines there, which are responsible for a big share of the local economy. Complaints are already coming out about the terrible odor left behind as the waters have receded, and in a refrain Iowans with which Iowans may be familiar due to the floods here in 2010, 2008, and 1993, people in Queensland are being advised to throw out food and other items that might have been contaminated by floodwaters. Urban flooding almost inevitably carriees with it untreated sewage and lots of pathogens. The scope of the flooding in Australia is brought home by an interactive map showing that the affected region is quite comparable in size to the state of Iowa.

As a result of the floods of the last few years, people in Iowa and Nebraska have learned a lot about disaster mitigation, recovery, and cleanup -- and in the upcoming newsletter of the Nebraska AWWA, you'll find an article on how Norfolk, Nebraska's water system responded to a major flood last year. We'll highlight that article on our site when it is published.

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last revised January 2011