Flood risk management

Floodplain developmentClimate change and rising sea levelsLeveesFloodplain Management CommitteeProperty development

Managing flood risk

Tweed Shire Council is responsible for managing flood risk in the Tweed.

Council is responsible for:

  • developing and managing flood-prone land
  • providing flood maps
  • reducing damage from floods
  • maintaining our flood infrastructure (levees, pump stations, flood gates)

Council's flood risk management policy(PDF, 105KB) is guided by the NSW Government's floodplain development manual.

Floodplain development

Floodplain refers to all flood prone areas in the Tweed.

Land development in flood prone areas

Standards for land development in flood prone areas are outlined in Council's Development Control Plan(PDF, 785KB). To minimise flooding impacts on the community all floodplain development must met these standards.

Floor levels

All habitable development must have a floor level above the 'flood planning level'. This is based on a 1% annual exceedance probability flood (AEP) plus 0.5 metre freeboard.

Flood liable land

Council defines land as flood liable if it’s affected by the probable maximum flood (PMF), which is the largest flood that could conceivably occur at a particular location.

Flood management planning instruments

A planning instrument is a document adopted under planning legislation by state, territory or local government. Planning instruments manage the use and development of land:

Flood related policies

Council policies that address flood planning and development:

Climate change and rising sea levels

See Flood studies

Flood infrastructure

Council carries out regular testing and maintenance on our levees, flood gates and pump stations. While it’s reassuring to have these in place, the risk of flood remains. 


Levees are built to provide protection from flooding. Levees are used to contain, control or divert the flow of water. However, no levee is flood-proof.

Since the 1950s Council has operated a series of flood levees throughout the Tweed:

  • Murwillumbah CBD levee
  • East Murwillumbah levee
  • Dorothy and William Streets levee
  • Tweed Heads South levee
  • South Murwillumbah levee (minor)
  • various rural levees (around 40 kilometres in total)

Do you live behind a levee?

Know your risk if you live behind a levee. There may be little warning when a levee is about to overtop and it could lead to very fast flooding.

Find out:

  • where levees are located (see levee map above)
  • the height of floodwater the levees are designed for

Take action:

  • have an emergency action plan
  • know your evacuation route and when you need to evacuate
  • listen for warnings (radio, TV and internet)

Levee myths factsheet (SES)

Video: When the Murwillumbah levee breaks (2018)

This video shows a 500-year flood in Murwillumbah’s central business district.

When the Murwillumbah levee overtops, the CBD will be under 4 metres of water in less than 3 hours.

(There’s a 0.2 per cent chance of the simulated 500-year average recurrence flood happening in any year.)

Video: Levee protection restored for South Murwillumbah (2020)

The video shows repairs to South Murwillumbah riverbank 

In March 2017 floods undercut the South Murwillumbah riverbank and broke the crest of the flood levee. Repairs were completed in February 2020, using more than 25,000 tonnes of rock.

Council received $3.75 million from the Australian Government’s Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.


Council maintains a network of around 350 sets of floodgates. These are generally ‘flap gates’ that allow water to flow in one direction only. These stop floodwater backfilling areas behind levees and allow drainage once flood levels drop.

Flood pumping stations

There are two Council operated flood pumping stations, located in the Murwillumbah CBD. They pump water away that builds up behind the levees.

Pumping stations do not remove the flood risk completely - flooding of roadways and private property may still occur.

Council's Floodplain Management Committee

The Tweed Floodplain Management Committee provides a forum to discuss technical, social, economic, environmental and cultural issues associated with floodplain management.

The Committee includes representatives from Council, State Emergency Service, NSW State Government and the local community.

For terms of reference, agendas and minutes see Council committees.

Property development

Contact Council's Flooding and Stormwater Engineer on 02 6670 2400 if you have questions about flood-related property development.