Thursday, February 29, 2024

Council ‘not consulted’ on Echuca flood levee

Campaspe Shire Council says it was not consulted on the location or design of a 3km flood levee which has divided the town of Echuca and outraged those left on the “wrong side” of the flood-saving sandbags.

“Emergency Management Victoria made the decision on Monday, 17 October that a levee needed to be constructed in Echuca to protect as much of the township as possible,” Council said in a statement this morning.

Based on the flood modelling available in the Incident Control Centre in Bendigo, Emergency Management Victoria had 48 hours to put the levee in place, it said.

“The levee’s location was decided by Emergency Management Victoria to save as many homes as possible from flooding and at the same time the decision needed to consider the short 48 hour time frame to undertake the work, required height of the levee, plant and equipment access and the engineering requirements for the levee construction.”

“Campaspe Shire Council was not consulted on the levee’s location or design,” Council said.

It said the 3km levee was built to “bolster protection around the township”.

Using more than 195,000 sandbags so far, Council says the levee is the result of a multi-agency approach from VICSES, CFA, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and the Australian Defence Force.

“There are a number of questions and rumours circulating in the community relating to past flood events and whether the appropriate action has been taken,” Council said today.

It says it is important for residents to understand the difference between the current flood and previous flooding events in Echuca.

“Of the most significant events in Echuca’s recent history – 1974, 1993 and 2010/2011 – they were vastly different events to what the community is currently facing. The main difference is that today all three rivers, the Goulburn, Murray and Campaspe, are all contributing to the current flooding event,” Council said.

“Once we are through the immediate impact of these floods, staff will turn their attention to past learnings, as well as learnings from this event, to inform future planning and possible advocacy to other levels of government to improve local infrastructure and our resilience to future flood events.

“Most importantly, we must focus on the current task at hand and the realities we face.”

Council is urging residents who feel unsafe to follow the current evacuation warnings.

“The role of local government in an emergency is to support the response and recovery effort and support its residents.”

Campaspe Shire staff are operating the Emergency Relief Centre at the Echuca South Basketball Stadium.

A range of Campaspe Shire staff, including Engineers, Environmental Health Officers, waste services, local laws and road services have worked across the municipality since the flooding started to respond to issues as they arise.

Staff who are unable to currently perform their roles have been redeployed into higher priority areas, such as Parks and Gardens staff monitoring flood pumps and Library staff working at the relief centre, Council said.

“Campaspe Shire’s focus over the coming days and weeks will be on continued service delivery wherever possible and planning for the long-term recovery for our community.”

Echuca residents on the “wrong side” of the levee, which stretches across the entire town, are threatening to take legal action after their homes were inundated by floodwaters.

Yesterday afternoon the Murray River was sitting at 94.9 metres above sea level – above the level of the 1993 flood, where it peaked at 94.77m.

More than 30mm of rain fell over the 24 hours to Monday afternoon in Echuca and Kerang.

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