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Levee Banks

The Queensland Government has introduced laws to regulate the construction or modification of levee banks. These laws became effective on 16 May 2014. If you propose to build a new levee or modify an existing levee from this date, you need to comply with this regulation.

What is a Levee?

Levee banks are defined as artificial embankments which prevent or reduce overland flow. Some structures which act as levees are excluded from the definition.

These exclusions include:

  • prescribed farming activities, including cultivating, laser levelling or contouring, clearing or replanting vegetation. (Note however that if fill is left over from prescribed farming activities, such as laser levelling or contouring, and it is subsequently used to divert overland flow water, then this will be captured under the definition of a levee);
  • irrigation infrastructure or levee-related infrastructure;
  • fill used for gardens or landscaping (up to a certain volume);
  • structures regulated under other Acts. This includes roads, railways and water storages; or
  • coastal infrastructure, such as groynes, used to protect life or property from the threat of coastal hazards.

Regulation of Levees

Levees play an important role in floodplain management. They also have the potential to impact on neighbouring properties, the community and the catchment as a whole. It is therefore important to provide a consistent and effective method for regulating them.

The Water Act 2000 defines what a levee is and provides that the construction of a new levee or the modification of an existing levee is now an 'assessable development' under the Planning Act 2016. This means that any person planning to construct or modify a levee must give consideration to the potential effects of their levee on the movement of floodwater, and how this could affect other people and properties. The level of assessment required for a levee depends on the potential impacts of the levee. 

Assessment of Levees

The level of assessment of a levee will depend on the levee category. There are three categories which are determined by the level of impact of the proposed levee:

  • Category 1 levees do not have any off-property impacts and are accepted development.
  • Category 2 levees do have off-property impacts and have an affected population of less than 3 people and are assessable development that require code assessment.
  • Category 3 levees do have off-property impacts and have an affected population of at least 3 people and are assessable development that require impact assessment.

Level of Assessment - Category 1 Levee

A Category 1 levee is self-assessable.  This means that a development permit for operational work is not required if the proposed Category 1 levee complies with the self-assessable code for the construction of new levees or modification of existing levees.

The self-assessable code requirements include:

  • The levee is located in a Rural Zone; and
  • There must be no change to the hydraulic effects beyond the boundaries of the property as a result of levee construction or modification. Hydraulic effects that must not change are:

- the flow path of overland flow water or floodwater where is enters or exits the property.

- the flow velocity off-property.

- the flooded area off-property.

- the flood height off-property.

The owner of the levee must notify Council of the details of the constructed or modified levee including the location and dimensions of the works within ten business days of completing the works.

Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Forms:

Self-assessable code and notification template for the construction of new levees or the modification of existing levees - https://www.dnrme.qld.gov.au/?a=109113:policy_registry/code-self-assessable-construction-modification-levees.pdf&ver=2.00  

Level of Assessment - Category 2 Levee

A Category 2 levee constitutes operational work and is deemed to be assessable development if involving:

  • Construction of a new category 2 levee; and
  • Modification of an existing levee if, after the modification, the levee will fulfil the requirements for a category 2 levee.

A development permit for operational work for a Category 2 levee is required from Council as the Assessment Manager.  Council will assess the development application against the relevant planning scheme provisions and assessment benchmarks outlined in Schedule 10 of the Water Regulation 2016.

Guidelines for the construction or modification of category 2 and 3 levees – https://www.dnrme.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/163423/guidelines-category-2-3-levees.pdf

Water Regulation 2016 – https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/inforce/current/sl-2016-0216   

Level of Assessment - Category 3 Levee

A Category 3 levee constitutes operational work and is deemed to be assessable development if involving:

  • Construction of a new category 3 levee; and
  • Modification of an existing levee if, after the modification, the levee will fulfil the requirements for a category 3 levee.

A development permit for operational work for a Category 3 levee is required from Council as the Assessment Manager.  Council will assess the development application against the relevant planning scheme provisions and assessment benchmarks outlined in Schedule 10 of the Water Regulation 2016.

A development application for a Category 3 levee requires referral to the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning for Water-related Development – Levees.  It is recommended applicants contact the State in relation to any referral agency requirements for a development application. 

Guidelines for the construction or modification of category 2 and 3 levees – https://www.dnrme.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/163423/guidelines-category-2-3-levees.pdf

Water Regulation 2016https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/inforce/current/sl-2016-0216  

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