Sheryl Lowe, Naracoorte Community News
Passionate about nature and the natural flow of waterways, local retired farmer Mr Peter ‘Huck” Shepherd presented his findings about the potential flooding of the Naracoorte Creek and the possible damage to buildings, businesses and homes in the lower lying areas of the town, to the Naracoorte Lucindale Council meeting on Tuesday 28th July.
Mr Shepherd has a respected history of over three decades of organic farming after a trip to Tasmania some years ago where he learned about the long-term effect of chemicals on the soils and put this newly acquired knowledge into practice on his local farms.
His ten-minute address to council about the Naracoorte Creek was to include a brief question time but Mayor Erika Vickery asked Mr Shepherd to continue with his address rather than spend time on questions at that time.
Mr Shepherd’s family has managed flood plains on two properties; one at Mullinger Park which contributes to the Naracoorte Creek and the other one on the Old Caves Road which contributes to the Caves Road drain.
“If I were to give a rating on the creek’s wellbeing and capacity to handle a decent flood and observing the mess it is in and the lack of maintenance since the 2000 report, out of a ten rating I would give it a minus 5,” he told council.
Mr Shepherd questioned what he claimed council’s reluctance to clear the waterway due to native vegetation and endangered species, saying he believed any of the native life attracted to water would migrate to other water-ways or remain in the creek whether there was vegetation there or not.
“If outside forces are dictating what the council can or can’t do, then I think it is high time we took back control and do what is right for the town and not what some bureaucrat sitting in Rundle Street thinks we should do.”
“Naracoorte has only two potential disaster possibilities, flood and fire and out of those two in the town’s history, flooding is the only one that has repeated itself several times.”
Mr Shepherd said he believes it will flood again.
He referred to the flooding on the East Coast of Australia earlier this year and used that to say he believed it was a wake-up call to take action on fixing the Naracoorte Creek. To do nothing was not an answer, he said.
Mr Shepherd estimates 20 to 30 businesses and up to 50 homes could be affected if the creek flooded. He questioned housing developments proceeding to the North of the town and if the predicted 100-year flood did occur, (he said referring to the November 2000 Tonkin Report) where does litigation stand?
He estimates that, according to his calculations there would have to be “serious earthworks making the creek deeper and wider from Playford Drive to the exit well past Field Avenue.”
Removing structures and/or re-arranging structures that may be detrimental to the water flow and extending works well into the flood plains west of the town would be his advice.
Having walked the Naracoorte Creek many times, he shared with council what he believes is their neglect of what could be an impressive tourist attraction if cleared of overgrown vegetation and increased water flow.
It isn’t a tourist attraction now but it could be, he said.
Elected members had the opportunity to comment at the end of Mr Shepherd’s address.
Mayor Erika Vickery said council is planning to do more but responses to council’s requests from the South Australian Government, are very slow in coming. Cr McGuire said there had been some reed removal and council had received approval to do more. Ash trees had been removed but council’s hands are tied without approval to carry out more work.
Cr Rayner asked Mr Shepherd if his concerns about restrictions to the water flow were in the West End near Bridgestone. Mr Shepherd confirmed they were.
“We take on your concerns,” Mayor Vickery said, thanking Mr Shepherd for his address.
This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.