Flooding in the Inner West

Inner West Council is bounded by three primary water bodies – Parramatta River to the north, Cooks River to the South and Sydney Harbour to the east – and contains 5 tributary creek systems – Dobroyd Canal, Hawthorne Canal, Whites Creek, Johnstons Creek and Alexandra Canal. Generally, storm water north of New Canterbury Road and Enmore Road flows to Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour, while storm water south of New Canterbury Road and Enmore Road flows to the Cooks River.

Inner West Council can be divided into 9 primary catchments:

  • Dobroyd Canal
  • Hawthorne Canal
  • Whites Creek
  • Johnstons Creek (shared with City of Sydney)
  • Marrickville Valley
  • Marrickville South
  • Eastern Channel East
  • Alexandra Canal
  • Foreshore (a combination smaller catchments draining directly to Parramatta River or Sydney Harbour)

There are also two smaller areas that contribute to flood management within Burwood Council and City of Canada Bay Council.

Flooding within Inner West Council can generally be described as flash flooding – flooding which is sudden and unexpected (typically within 6 hours of the contributory rain) – often caused by sudden local or nearby heavy rainfall. This is generally attributable to the age of the existing stormwater system, the nature of the topography of the LGA, the heavily urbanised nature of the LGA and the associated history of development, as well as the impact of the major waterways within the LGA.

Flooding in Inner West Council can be categorised in three ways:

  • Overland flooding, where water flows along and through natural valleys and constructed drainage channels through streets and properties on its way to the river, creek or harbour
  • Riverine flooding, also called mainstream flooding, where the banks of the creek or river are exceeded inundating adjacent low lying areas
  • Coastal impacts, largely confined to areas of the Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour foreshore, where tidal forces and wave action may over top the foreshore level and run‑up the seaward land area

Some properties within Inner West Council may experience a combination of the above flood impacts.

What actions has Council undertaken to date?

Floodplain management is coordinated by Council’s Infrastructure Planning team within the Footpaths, Roads, Traffic and Stormwater Group. Inner West Council, and its predecessors, has been undertaking food risk studies across the 9 primary catchments within its LGA since 2009 in accordance with the NSW Flood Prone Land Policy. The policy specifies a staged approach to the floodplain management process, as identified in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Summary of the floodplain risk management process
Figure 1: Summary of the foodplain risk management process

To date Council has completed Overland Flood Studies for 8 of its 9 catchments, a tide and storm levels study along the Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour foreshore, as well as contributing to the Cooks River Flood Study and the Parramatta River Estuary Coastal Zone Management Study and Plan.

Council has also completed flood risk management studies and plans for all areas within the former Leichhardt LGA, Marrickville Valley and Eastern Channel East. Council is currently finalising its Flood Risk Management Study and Plan for the Hawthorne Canal and Dobroyd Canal. These plans assess existing and potential flood management issues within the associated catchment and potential management and mitigation measures.

Links to these reports can be found at the bottom of this page.

Current studies on exhibition

If you would like to see current studies please contact our Your Say Inner West Page

Links to studies

Alexandra Canal Flood Study (PDF 50.3MB)

Cooks River Flood Study (PDF 53MB)

Cooks River FRMSP (PDF 47.4MB)

Eastern Channel East Flood Study (PDF 44.1MB)

Eastern Channel East FRMSP (PDF 29.9MB)

Hawthorne Canal Flood Study (PDF 55.1MB)

Johnstons Creek & Whites Creek Flood Study (PDF 55.3MB)

Johnstons Creek Capacity Assessment - Sydney Water (PDF 1.8MB)

Leichhardt Estuarine Planning Levels Study (PDF 5.7MB)

Leichhardt  Flood Study

Leichhardt FMRSP

Marrickville Valley Flood Study

Marrickville Valley FRMSP


Parramatta River Costal Zone Management Plan (PDF 47.7MB)

Whites Creek Catchment Management Study  (PDF 2.4MB)

Rate this page

  • Rate as The content was useful14.29% The content was useful votes
  • Rate as The content was not useful85.71% The content was not useful votes

Thanks for your feedback. We will use this data to improve the content of this page.

Page last updated: 21 May 2020