Statement regarding reporting on NSW flood warning network
The Bureau of Meteorology acknowledges the release of the 2022 New South Wales Independent Flood Inquiry report, prepared by Professor Mary O’Kane AC and Michael Fuller APM.
The Bureau participated in the Inquiry, providing substantial information about its role and operations in relation to the February-March 2022 flood events as well as a detailed record of the weather during that period.
On Thursday 18 August 2022, the ABC’s AM program aired a story relating to the release of the NSW Independent Flood Inquiry 2022 report. There were a number of factual errors in this story, including commentary that the Inquiry found “the Bureau of Meteorology’s rain gauge network is not fit for purpose”. This is not factually correct.
The Inquiry found that the design of the rain and river gauge network in NSW is not fit for purpose and recommended that, to improve the rain and river gauge network, ownership of the network should be transferred to the Bureau.
In NSW, the flood warning network comprises rain and river gauges that are owned, operated and maintained by a number of different federal, state and local government agencies, as well as non-government agencies.
In NSW, the Bureau owns, operates and maintains 885 of the more than 1,500 of these flood warning network assets, with the remainder owned and maintained by local councils, state government and non-government agencies.
In the Northern Rivers region, there are 90 flood warning assets: 69 are owned, operated and maintained by local councils and other government agencies and 21 are owned, operated and maintained by the Bureau.
None of the flood warning network assets that failed during the flood event are owned, operated or maintained by the Bureau.
ABC’s AM did not contact the Bureau to fact check information before it aired this story. The ABC’s 7.30 did, however, contact the Bureau about the flood warning network last week, and has published the Bureau’s response to its website, which can be viewed here.