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Byron Shire
July 2, 2022

Millions needed for drainage maintenance in the north of Byron Shire

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Byron Council would need to find more than $4 million in its budget to kick-start the process of bringing drainage maintenance in the north of the Shire up to a desirable standard, a staff report has found.

Following the floods of February and March, residents in the Shire’s north said that the devastation in their neighbourhoods had been exacerbated by Council’s failure to adequately maintain drains and other basic infrastructure in their area.

In response, councillors ordered staff to examine the state of sewers and drains in this part of the Shire, including past and future spending levels.

Overall, the staff report found that these areas of basic infrastructure had generally been maintained to an acceptable level in the north, meeting the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set out by Council.

However, the report also noted that, when it came to drainage maintenance, an additional injection of funds would be required to ‘provide the level of service desired by Council’.

The total budget allocation required in the first year would be $4,162,093, the report found.

This consisted of $500,000 on ‘reactive maintenance’, $269,740 for open drain slashing, $1,101,441 for cleaning and de-silting drains and $2,290,912 for cleaning the underground network.

There would then need to be an annual allocation of $1.56m into the future, indexed to inflation, to get to the desired standard.

Above KPIs

When it came to sewer assets, the report found that the utilities department had completed 84 per cent of planned maintenance across the entire Shire.

This was above the KPI of 80 per cent set by the Council.

The state of sewers in Ocean Shores – a suburb of particular concern for locals – was also deemed to be acceptable.

‘The average service state is 2.43, which is within the two to three asset KPI condition range,’ the authors of the report said.

The report also found that there was enough money in the sewer fund to support future capital, maintenance, and operational requirements north of the shire over the next five years.

Sources of funding for additional work, such as maintenance of drains might be harder to find.

The report stated that grant funding was ‘not currently available for drainage repair and maintenance’ because grants were typically aimed at new or upgraded infrastructure.

‘Council is awaiting guidelines relating to an additional $2 million natural disaster funding that has been announced,’ the report said.

‘Under the first round of funding, drainage maintenance was not eligible, but the request for drainage upgrades and maintenance eligibility has been made for the upcoming funding release.’

The matter will be debated at this Thursday’s Council meeting.

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