Frequently asked questions

Councils are required to prepare flood studies in accordance to the Floodplain Development Manual. This manual outlines how councils should manage flooding to reduce the risk to people and properties.

On this page, you'll find answers to questions about different aspects and terminology used in a flood study.

Flood models

Flood events have varying definitions based on their size. Some of these definitions are more commonly used than others, for example the “1 in 100 year flood”, or design flood.

Some types of floods have not occurred for over a century, so flood levels must be predicted using computer models. These models simulate different flood levels and velocities, overlaid over a terrain model for a variety of different sized floods. This allows us to predict what these larger floods will look like, so we can plan accordingly and emergency services can be better prepared for these types of flood events.

We have an obligation to maintain current flood information, which means updating flood studies periodically. Reasons models are revised can include:

  • new floods occur, providing additional data to fine-tune the model
  • new flood mitigation works undertaken may reduce flood levels
  • more advanced modelling technology becoming available
  • development within the floodplain could change conditions.

A 1 in 100 year flood is a flood event that has the probability of occurring on average once every 100 years. This means there is a 1% chance of a flood of this size occurring at a particular location in any given year. This does not mean that if a location floods one year that it will not flood for the next 99 years. Nor, if it has not flooded for 99 years that it will necessarily flood the next year.

Some parts of Australia have experienced more than one ‘1 in 100 year’ floods within a decade of each other. Within a floodplain risk management study and plan the ‘1 in 100 year’ flood is referred to as the 1% Annual Exceedence Probability (AEP) flood event.

The flood planning area refers to land where development controls are applied to minimise impacts of flooding, for example, a floor level.

The Flood Planning Level (FPL) is a height used to set floor levels for property development in flood prone areas. It is generally defined as the 1% AEP flood level plus an appropriate freeboard (see explanation of ‘freeboard’ below). This level may be higher for vulnerable land uses (eg hospitals or schools).

A freeboard is a height above the 1% AEP flood level that is included in the Flood Planning Level to account for factors such as wind, waves, unforeseen blockages, other localised hydraulic effects. Freeboard is usually 0.5m above a flood level.

Council’s flood modelling determines the extent of flooding throughout the catchment and the identification of properties partially or fully impacted by flooding.

A Flood Study provides technical information on the likelihood and characteristics of flooding within a catchment. It provides detailed information about the nature of flood risk including the distribution, extent, depths, levels and velocity of floodwaters for a range of storm events, including a 100 year flood.

A floodplain risk management study and plan analyses flood behaviour and identifies and prioritises options to help protect people and property through better planning, emergency management and infrastructure works.

If the situation is life threatening you should call 000.

For other assistance during an emergency such as flood, storm or tsunami, please contact the NSW State Emergency Service (SES):

The State Emergency Service provides advice on how to manage your flood risk on their floodsafe webpage.