Since the 2008 floods, Central Highlands Regional Council has collaborated with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to expand the region’s system of rain and river height gauges and has set a benchmark for Queensland.
The number of rain gauges has increased from six to over seventy strategically placed gauges with the latest one installed on top of Mt Moffatt, near Injune, last week.
Installing the rain gauges is not only a task that takes council staff to remote and beautiful places of the region, it’s also vitally important.
Mayor Kerry Hayes said the region now has one of the most comprehensive gauging networks in the state and it’s thanks to the close collaboration with the BOM and dedication of staff involved in the project since day one.
‘We are lucky to have experienced staff with in-depth knowledge of our catchments and it’s been a great advantage for council,’ he said.
‘The new gauges will help us during an extreme weather event with community warnings and evacuation processes.
‘It allows us to assess timelines; when the water is coming and how much.’
The new rain gauges use radio transmission and are solar powered. Previously, gauges were reliant on the telecommunications network, which is not fault-proof in a flood event.
Data collected from the gauges is sent back to Council and the BOM in minutes. It’s then published on the BOM website for people to see.
Senior Project Officer Keith Jarrett has been involved in the project since the start. He said the annual service run of gauges takes him and a BOM field officer five weeks. Together they travel over 6000km to keep the gauges functional when they’re needed.
‘We’re lucky to see some remote and beautiful places in the Central Highlands with this work,’ he said.
‘At 1200m of elevation, Mt Moffatt is the roof of the southern catchment in the region and the gauge there has a double function.
‘Its function doubles as a radio repeater for gauges in places where radio transmission is poor due to the existing geography; like Carnarvon Gorge and Arcadia Valley.’
The Mt Moffatt rain gauge should be visible on the BOM website sometime in May.