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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 Regulation 2017. 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.

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.

Landholders will need to apply for a development approval for category 2 or 3 levees. Local councils are responsible for assessing levee applications. As assessment managers, councils are able to make decisions about levees based on their vision for their local government area and their specific planning and management needs.

To construct or modify a category 2 or 3 levee, an application must utilise DA Form 1.