It is a record, isn’t it?

WET AND WILD: This photo by Anita Ostenfeld shows the extent of flooding between Ulmarra and Maclean.
WET AND WILD: This photo by Anita Ostenfeld shows the extent of flooding between Ulmarra and Maclean.

WHETHER the 2013 Clarence River flood has topped the 1890 record flood height or not is an argument we'll be having for some time.

But when if it comes down to the amount of water in the river during the flood, it seems the latest deluge takes the gold medal.

Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder said he spoke with a team of hydrographers meas- uring the water flows in the Clarence during the flood and they told him it was highly likely the flow would be an Australian record.

"They said they would have to check with colleagues, but they thought the flows here were higher than the Burnett River," Mr Schroder said.

"They said the flow of the Clarence River was 1.5megalitres a minute, a flow that would fill Sydney Harbour in seven hours."

On flood heights Mr Schroder prefers to stick with the council figures, which also gives the 2013 height of 8.08m the record over the 1890 figure of 7.88m.

But it is this figure that is proving contentious.

The president of the Clarence River Historical Society, Frank Mack, stands by a fig- ure of 8.13m for the 1890 flood, shading the 2013 level.

"The height given for the 1890 flood was 27 feet and that converts back into 8.13m," Mr Mack said.

He acknowledged flood measurements from those early days were problematic.

"The most accurate meas- urements came after 1932 when surveyors building the Grafton Bridge measured the height up to the railway line," Mr Mack said.

But he said some of the rule-of-thumb measurements used in early times proved remarkably accurate.

"They used to say to get the flood height at Grafton, you took the Copmanhurst figure and divide by three," he said.

"It used to work out all the time.

"If it was 60 feet at Copmanhurst it would be 20 feet at Grafton."

Topics:  flood

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