With a third La Niña now underway, The Echo asked Council’s Director Infrastructure Services, Phil Holloway, what flood-affected residents can expect regarding drainage maintenance.
He told The Echo, ‘Following the floods earlier this year, and the rain last week, Council acknowledges and understands that people are very concerned about drainage’.
‘We will be stepping up with a more proactive approach in response to this. Since the February and March floods, Council’s drainage upgrades have been scheduled in the north of the Shire, in areas including South Golden Beach, New Brighton and Ocean Shores. At any given time, Council has two streams of drainage works going on – immediate repairs and maintenance works in response to blockages and breakages (which in times of flooding can result in huge volumes of work), and our ongoing schedule of upgrades and improvements (works that are mostly grant funded and require larger-scale project management over months and years).
‘Mullumbimby is the next focus for both immediate repairs and maintenance, as well as larger-scale drainage works, scheduled for coming months and well into 2023.
‘At the same time, Council is shifting/increasing resourcing immediately and will be inspecting and assessing drainage across the Shire. Urgent repairs and maintenance will be triaged and worked through as quickly as possible in coming months.
Drainage unable to cope
‘However, it’s important for the community to understand that urban drains are not designed to cope with the force and quantity of water that we’ve experienced recently. During the recent floods, the sheer volume of rain meant that no drains (stormwater, urban etc) were able to cope.
‘Council is taking action on drainage maintenance and improvements immediately. We are also committed to providing information on our works programs on our website to keep everyone informed about what we’re doing and what works are coming up next. We will have that information on Council’s website next month.
Mr Holloway added, ‘Council has applied for a grant from the NSW Government to fund an Overland Flow Path Study. As the name suggests this study will look beyond the flooding of creeks and rivers to the flow of floodwater across the landscape and will assess the capacity of infrastructure in the shire (drains, bridges etc) and the results will then be used to prioritise and seek funding for the upgrade of infrastructure as part of the Stormwater Capital Works program’.