About Increasing natural disaster resilience of riverbank pump systems

Centre for Appropriate Technology Discussion Water management About Increasing natural disaster resilience of riverbank pump systems

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    Zhang Yijie

      I’d like to know about the idea of how to solve the problem of water pump being washed away by flood in the Cape York area, and how the water pump works in the Cape York area, we are confusing about very less resource.

      Luke Barbagallo

        Hi Zhang,

        Thanks for reaching out with your query.

        Firstly, I’d suggest that you review the CfAT interactive resources, as this will give further context as to where and how the pumps are currently situated. In the images and 360 interactive virtual tour, you’re able to see the various elements of the existing pump system, and from this, identify the weaker elements of the design in relation to flood. From here, you can start to ideate potential solutions.

        As flooding is seasonal, a degree of mobility and easy relocation of pump equipment out of the path of floodwaters on a seasonal basis could be worth exploring. However, as you can see in the interactive, some of the piping and pump infrastructure is static. It is a part of the Design Challenge to propose solutions to this challenge. It might also be valuable to troubleshoot some of your ideas with your tutors or academics.



        Timothy Fay


          Just wondering what distance one portable fire fighting pump will be required to travel as a secondary pump?



          Grace Roberts

            Hi Timmy,

            Thanks for your question and I apologise about our delay in responding to your question. The portable fire fighting pump for a riverbank itself won’t have to travel once it is installed. Even as a backup ‘secondary’ pump, such as a backup to a primary rainwater supply, it will remain installed and ready to use when required. A ‘portable’ fire fighting pump is used though because these portable ones are very affordable and a single-unit that can be installed much easier than other kinds of permanent pumps, and their location can be adjusted if need be. The water that it is pumping however from the river to a homeland or central place in a community would travel a distance of 20+ metres if this is what you are asking.

            Hope that helps but feel free to ask another question here to clarify,
            Best of luck,

            Huang LeBin

              I wonder how many houses in Cape York? Because our installations need to be installed next to each house, and I need to know how many houses need to be installed, which is very useful for our cost analysis.


              • This reply was modified 3 years ago by Huang LeBin.
              Grace Roberts

                Hi Robin,

                You can use the 2016 Census data to determine how many households/dwellings are in Cape York. However, I suggest you do not aim to provide every house in Cape York with a disaster resilient river pump system because they won’t all need one.

                Instead, you should aim to design one system for one homestead or small remote community to share, as a pilot to test how effective your system is before scaling up. Or if you like, a few systems locally to test them first. Also keep in mind that only communities who are positioned nearby to a river might require this system.

                Hope that helps,
                Best of luck,

                Blair Kassulke

                  Hi EWB Team,

                  I have a few questions about the challenge. I have taken the time to review the 360 degree walkthrough which covered most of our queries but still have a few questions.

                  1) Apart from EWB is there anyone else that has a stake in this challenge that will need to be notified or kept informed about this project? and whom else might this project affect that should be considered? for example, local community or agriculture?

                  2) I understand that budgets are not “set” for this project. Should we be simply attempting to keep the costs as low as possible?

                  3) It would be ideal to utilize locally acquired materials. Are there any local manufactured of materials that could be utilized?

                  4) in terms of design, fabrication and construction, are any local skillsets are available for use in this project? Engineers, construction workers, carpenters, metalworkers etc? that may play a role in constructing or maintaining the site?

                  Thank you for your assistance,

                  – Blair

                  Luke Barbagallo

                    Hey Blair,

                    Thanks for your great questions! We’ve answered them below in the same order as asked.

                    1) For the purpose of the Challenge, your main stakeholders will be EWB and your tutors/university academics. In terms of stakeholders for your proposed project, CfAT is the main stakeholder to consider. There will likely be additional stakeholders, and as your design proposal progresses, these will become clearer; you can think about who are the end users of your design, who might be impacted by it, what permissions you might need etc to identify who your stakeholders could be.

                    2) In terms of budget; We address this question in the FAQs document, linked at the top of the forum page.
                    You should be not necessarily be thinking about keeping costs as low as possible, but rather on what is a reasonable and appropriate cost for the project where a balance of efficacy and efficiency can be reached under the constraints of the context on the Peninsula.
                    This will of course depend on your project design, but it’s important to keep in mind the conditions of Cape York regarding remoteness and resilience of the design. If your design utilises the cheapest options but breaks down in a short time frame, then that is not necessarily the most appropriate choice.

                    3) Great to see that you’re thinking about using local materials! Materials such as bush timber are readily available in the region, but beyond this, there is limited access to the kinds of materials that would be suitable for a water project. Other manufactured materials may need to be transported from larger towns and cities near the Cape.

                    4) Again, great to see the prioritisation of local labour in your design choices. Often there are local community members who have trades skills such as carpentry, metal work and construction, however more technical skillsets such as engineering may need to be contracted from larger centres, such as Cairns or Townsville. In terms of maintenance, again community members may possess trades skills, however, you would need to consider how you communicate your design in a way that enables the community to maintain the system, or whether your design would require specific and narrow skillsets to perform any maintenance or repairs.

                    Please feel free to reach out with any further questions!

                    Challenge Team

                    Marshal Ranasinghe Arachchige Sanju Ukesh

                      Hello! I have a few questions
                      1)Can I know specifically who will have access to these pumps? In the sense who is in charge of maintenance and care?
                      2)Can I know if there is a possibility to transport material to the riverbank?
                      3) As read from a statement above usually the pumps pump water a further 20m from the river. Can I know if there is a specific intake length?
                      4) Parts of the system that should be static are the fixture location ( pumps can be moved), and the piping. Can I know how the piping is protected right now from the floods?

                      Thank you,

                      • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Marshal Ranasinghe Arachchige Sanju Ukesh.
                      Rachel Alford

                        Hi Marshal,

                        Thanks for your questions, I’ve answered each individually below:

                        1) The pumps are generally located on homelands and therefore maintenance is usually the responsibility of the landowner who typically won’t have technical expertise.

                        2) Which materials are you thinking about transporting to the riverbank? In general, yes you will be able to transport to the riverbank, however you need to keep in mind the logistical conditions of Cape York, with riverbanks likely only accessible by 4WDs.

                        3) There is no specific intake length specified, however it will depend on the location of the pumps. Your design should be modular and flexible to enable it’s deployment in different locations.

                        4) The piping is currently not protected at all. There have been flooding events in the past in which the pumps have washed away which is why this need has been identified as a design project.

                        If you haven’t already had a look, in the ‘Resources’ section there’s a 360 walk through interactive resource ‘Interactive: Explore CfAT project examples’ which explores a riverbank pump system – this may help with visualising the context you are designing for.



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