Draft Business Case Report

The below attachments to this business case were too large (>500 MB) to upload here. These are available on request by email to or by visiting our Emerald Office.

  • Final Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Final Review of Environmental Factors Concept
  • Final Planning Report
  • Final Communication and Engagement Plan
  • Final Road Impact Assessment 
  • Final Hydraulic Assessment – Volume 1
  • Final Hydraulic Assessment – Volume 2
  • Final Geotechnical Report
  • Final Drawings
  • Final Preliminary Design Report
  • Final Preliminary Cost Estimate Report

15 August 2017 - 'The levee business case and beyond' short summary

This document is designed to consolidate the information that has led to the levee decision and providesome clarity on what is planned for flood protection.

It includes: „

  • A snapshot of what’s in thebusiness case. „
  • What flood mitigation activitieswe’ve completed and the differenceit makes. „
  • What we’re going to do next. „
  • Where to find more informationabout the business case and thelevee decision.

Access the document here

11 April 2017 - Video's explaining the case and decision

Watch below as Ben from AECOM explains 'What is a business case?'

Key points:

  • AECOM were engaged by the Central highlands Regional Council in mid-2016 to undertake a business case for the Emerald Flood Protection Scheme.
  • The scheme consisted of a series of six levees to provide flood protection for Emerald.
  • The business case is important because it assesses the technical viability, costs, economic benefits and risks of the project, allowing council to make an informed decision.


Watch below as Ben from AECOM explains the findings.

Key points:

  • Geotechnical, civil, structural, environment and planning, hydraulics and drainage teams each assessed their own components of the project to support an updated cost estimate, provided in the business case.
  • At this stage, the Emerald levees project would cost approximately just under $200 M, including costs associated with land resumptions, other principal obligations and the overall construction.
  • The primary benefit of the levees is a reduction to flood damage, with approximately 2400 residential buildings protected from inundation.
  • However, the business case also looked at the economic outputs of the project on a state and national level and found the benefit to cost ratio was marginal.


Watch below as Ben from AECOM explains the modelling.

Key points:

  • The business case built on existing data about the flood behaviour of the Nogoa River, looking at a range of flood magnitudes, from small floods to events larger than the 2011 flood and even larger than the levees would protect for.
  • This is to clearly show council how the levees would perform, as well as the benefits and risks associated with the project.


Watch below as Mayor Kerry Hayes explains today's decision.

Key points:

  • The business case study prepared by AECOM study was presented at the general council meeting on 11 April 2017.
  • Based on the business case findings the council determined levees are not a financially viable flood mitigation option for Emerald, as the costs to build and maintain the levees outweigh the potential direct benefits.


Watch below as Mayor Kerry Hayes explains what's next.

Key points:

  • In the last seven years council has spent $7.3 M on flood mitigation projects, such as the railway culverts, the New Street evacuation route and the Nogoa River Excavation.
  • Council will now focus on raising the Vince Lester bridge and rail bridge, evacuation planning and community education.
  • Above all else, public safety is council’s number one priority.

11 April 2017 - Levee Business Case

Draft Business Case Report - Emerald Flood Protection Scheme

The below attachments to this business case were too large (>500 MB) to upload here. These are available on request by email to or by visiting our Emerald Office.

  • Final Cost Benefit Analysis [1,104 KB]
  • Final Review of Environmental Factors Concept [110,091 KB}
  • Final Planning Report  [111,137 KB]
  • Final Communication and Engagement Plan [78 KB]
  • Final Road Impact Assessment [14,479 KB]
  • Final Hydraulic Assessment Volume 1 [3,146 KB]
  • Final Hydraulic Assessment – Volume 2 [115,584 KB]
  • Final Geotechnical Report [164,169 KB]
  • Final Drawings  [71,779 KB]
  • Final Preliminary Design Report [3,593 KB]
  • Final Preliminary Cost Estimate Report [1,579 KB]

11 April 2017 - Media release

‘Levees are not a financially viable flood mitigation option for Emerald,’ was the decision handed down by the Central Highlands Regional Council today.

After several years of investigation, culminating in the draft Business Case Report – Emerald Flood Protection Scheme being brought before council for consideration, the mayor, Cr Kerry Hayes, pronounced the levee debate ‘finally put to rest’.

‘The answer to the question as to whether Emerald is going to have levees as flood protection is no, it’s not,’ the mayor said.

‘As Chair of the flood recovery group, I’ve toiled side by side with people in two major flood clean-ups and I know how awful it is; I know that people want us to do something; but I also know they don’t want us to do something foolish, that’s why we invested in the business case study.

‘The study took four months longer to complete than expected and is extremely comprehensive. At the end of the day, in the most simplified terms, the cost outweighs the benefit, from every angle you look at it.

‘Essentially, the cost of building, operating and maintaining levees exceeds the potential direct benefit of reduced flood damage, which is the impact on agricultural land and the general effect on people. Moreover, the indirect benefits, such as reduced insurance premiums and improved property values, while identified as marginal, are unproven.

‘We’ve got the business case; we said we’d be guided by it; and the result is that levees are not good business for this community – it’s a cost that our community cannot afford.

‘The councillors have sat around a table and determined what’s important to us for our community. Clearly, public safety came out on top—way above property protection—and we can assure the safety of our community without a levee system.

‘The announcement today won’t be the end; in fact it’s just the beginning. The levee option is finished, however a number of other flood mitigation projects, activities and advocacy will continue in the months ahead,’ the mayor explained.

‘In the last seven years the council has spent approximately $7.3 million on flood mitigation projects, such as the railway culverts, the New Street evacuation route and the Nogoa River excavation and this is a solid foundation for our three future focus areas: the bridge and rail raising, evacuation planning, and education.

‘Discussions with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads regarding raising the Vince Lester Bridge to make a priority evacuation route along with removing the old timber bridge; and with Queensland Rail concerning the rail bridge are well advanced and will provide significant mitigation.

‘Evacuation planning will include more state-of-the-art riverine and rainfall early warning systems and a comprehensive evacuation plan for Emerald.

‘And, there’ll be an ongoing concentrated effort to ensure people are well-informed about flood safety and are well-prepared in advance of any future event.

‘As a council we will continue to lobby the Insurance Council of Australia on behalf of the community, however we do have substantive flood height data available to home owners that should satisfy the risk assessment criteria of insurance companies and may result in a reduction of some premiums.

‘This decision not to proceed with levees has been based on a lot of information—much of it technical—and we understand there will be a mix of reactions and many questions.

‘My commitment  during this week is to personally visit as many people as possible that have been directly affected by the levee deliberations, but I encourage everyone interested to visit the website where an assortment of information will be available to explain many aspects of the business case findings. There’s also a dedicated email contact at or phone council on 1300 242 686.’

29 January 2016 - Levee Alignment

We are continuing to investigate the preferred levee alignment.

Surveying of the proposed alignment and an ecological study are currently underway.

This fact sheet and a Notice of Entry has been sent to all landholders that are affected by the possible levee.  

It explains the type of work being carried out and how residents can make contact with the people performing the work.

23 September 2015 - New Street Evacuation Route

Here are two recent maps showing the maximum flood depth and maximum flood velocity if the approved levess are installed and New Street in Emerald is raised.

26 June 2015 - Levee Options

This AECOM report outlines the assessment of the technical, environmental and economic feasibility alternative levee alignment options identified during the consultation process.

It also revises the conceptual civil design and cost estimates due to further calibration of the KBR hydraulic model to consider the impact of any changes to the DFE water surface levels on the levee extents and crest elevations.

Report – includes: introduction, revisions to preferred levee alignment, proposed alternative levee alignment options, technical review of alternative levee alignment options, alternative levee alignment options evaluation, conclusions and recommendations.

Map - current alignment of levees adopted by council on 24 June 2015

14 August 2015 - Levee Feasability Report

Council has adopted the AECOM Flood Levee Feasibility Report (13MB) in principle, which concludes that a comprehensive levee system, in its entirety, is a viable flood mitigation protection measure for the Emerald community.

A summary document has been prepared to provide a snapshot of the key findings and recommendations from the Emerald Flood Levee Feasibility Study.

There are different types of levees that can be used for flood mitigation. 

6 August 2015 - Preferred Levee Alignments

Levees are a significant investment, but could be used for other community benefits such as at McIndoe Park and on Rifle Range Road.

This is the latest map of the preferred levee alignment for the whole of Emerald township.

Click on the links below to view more detailed maps of the six preferred levees:



The Emerald Flood Mitigation Project will provide the maximum level of protection from flooding for the Emerald community.

Since the 2008 and 2010/11 flood events,specialist engineering consultants have investigated solutions to safeguard the town from future flooding.

The criteria used to evaluate and prioritise the options was:

  • Number of buidling protected from overfloor flooding
  • Preservation of essential services (water, sewerage, power, emergency services, etc)
  • Preservation of essential evacuation routes
  • Number of properties (land) protected from flooding


An extensive consultation process to give residents the chance to voice ideas and give feedback to consider potential flood reduction options and has used this to inform its decsion on the best flood reduction option for Emerald. 

Council  is pursuing a number of other flood mitigation options: the River Improvement Strategy and the Upstream Dam Options