Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Levee left out of budget

Cobram levee project included in previous budgets is put on ice as Moira Shire awaits application process from state government.

ROB HENSON June 9, 2014 3:38am

This map shows the ‘Collie Bank’ (circled in red), stopping inundation (diagonal lines shaded area) with assistance from irrigation channel banks (bold black lines) in the event of breach of Dick’s Levee, and assuming the breach of the No.1 main channel.

Cobram’s flood protection system remains ‘‘incomplete’’, according to a former Moira Shire councillor, with a levee project removed from the 2014-15 budget and council unable to apply for state funds.

Former councillor Kevin Crow, at a council budget information meeting last week, said the ‘Collie Bank’ had been budgeted for $700000 in previous years leading up to the 2014-15 document.

Mr Crow said the bank, first canvassed in 1993, was to go across the Murray Valley Hwy east of Cobram, and was part of the town’s levee bank system and was integral to protecting Cobram in flood.

Stretching from sand hills near Pye Rd, meeting an old Rural Water Commission levee, it would divert water overflowing from Dick’s Levee to the south.

‘‘If Dick’s Levee breached, that water would come into Cobram,’’ Mr Crow said.

‘‘With three feet of water over Dick’s Levee, that’s 5000Ml a day coming down the (Murray Valley) highway.’’

Mr Crow said at a meeting three years ago with Moira and Berrigan shire staff and the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, all agreed the levee was ‘‘very important’’.

‘‘As a result of that, it got into that budget, it got into the next budget ... Now there’s not a mention of this levee, it’s been completely forgotten.

‘‘I’m disappointed that what I consider the most important thing in the budget, more important than swimming pools or other things has been left out.

‘‘You’ve got to protect the assets you’ve got.’’

Cr Ed Cox said he ‘‘completely forgot’’ about the budget item.

‘‘In defence, we are waiting on external funding for the cost of putting the bank in,’’ he said.

Moira executive engineer Mark Foord oversees flood studies and said the project was ready for a ‘‘stage two’’ study — examining options, costings and capabilities available for flood mitigation.

‘‘The first study is to see where the water goes, the second to see what you can do about that, and the third step is implementing works,’’ Mr Foord said said.

‘‘In the past, the funding for each of those three items has been a third from local, state and federal governments.’’

But Mr Foord said council was unable to apply for Victorian Government funds, as the state was yet to set up funding application processes, in the wake of a major state inquiry into flood mitigation.

The inquiry followed the record flooding of late 2010 and early 2011 and was finished in August 2012, with the government providing an official response in October 2013.

‘‘What happens after that, we don’t know. There’s no application process,’’ Mr Foord said.

In the 2014-15 state budget, $7.6million has been allocated for flood prevention for communities close to the Murray River.

In its response to the inquiry, the Victorian Government said funding would not be provided without evidence that works were cost effective.

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