Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Flood emergency: Council to levy governments for funding of upgrades

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Both the Narrandera Shire Council Mayor Neville Kschenka and General Manager George Cowan will lobby the State and Federal Governments for funding for upgrades to highways as well as the town’s water supply and stormwater systems..

At the same time they will formally thank the many emergency services, utility personnel, Council staff and volunteers involved in the current flood emergency.

Submissions will be lodged with the NSW Government seeking support for routine flood damage repairs, highlighting the importance of betterment to the Newell and Sturt Highways and the Narrandera town water supply and stormwater systems.

Narrandera Shire continues to experience flooding across its entire length and breadth with significant damage to public and private infrastructure, inconvenience to the travelling public and devastation for many farmers

Heavy rain across the catchment coupled with near record releases from Burrinjuck and Blowering Dams have combined to cause river and creek levels to rise and remain high.

Narrandera Shire was added to the list of local government areas issued with natural disaster declarations, following on from the declaration issued in August allowing councils, communities and individuals to access a range of special assistance measures.

The Murrumbidgee River at Narrandera peaked at 8.49m late on Wednesday afternoon November 9 and has been slowly receding but after heavy rains in the catchment, Mirrool Creek caused flooding in the north of the Shire.

Approximately 16 dwellings, mainly in the Gillenbah area, were evacuated in the November 9 flooding and in the end a number of these were inundated and residents relocated to stay with family and friends.

Cr Kschenka said once the water had retreated sufficiently, the clean-up would begin.

Whilst not actually evacuating, a larger number of dwellings were effectively isolated during the event with support provided by emergency services to residents who re-mained in their homes.

When the flood level in the Murrumbidgee exceeds seven metres, the syphon located at the end of the main stormwater drain behind Larmer Street must be closed, preventing automatic access of local stormwater into the wetlands.

With the co-operation of Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI), Council staff installed pumps and created a temporary breach of the canal bank to overcome this issue.

“Unfortunately, following a couple of heavy rain events, some stormwater entered the lower end of a number of properties inundating sheds and contents,” Cr Kschenka said.

The Newell Highway from Narrandera to Jerilderie and Sturt Highway from Wagga to Darlington Point were closed as a result of the flooding which had a devastating impact on the many businesses in Narrandera and Gillenbah that depend on the highways for trade.

Irrigation Way suffered inundation and was closed to light traffic for a period.

Cr Kschenka said Council staff had been busy with running repairs to all roads, fixing potholes and failures as they have occurred and as allowed by the weather.

A comprehensive flood damage claim will be prepared and submitted to the NSW State government in the near future.
Unlike past emergencies, Council was asked to identify projects that would improve the community’s ability to deal with flood events in the future.

A preliminary submission has already been made highlighting the lifting of sections of the Sturt and Newell Highways to major flood level and the upgrade of the town stormwater system.

At the height of the flood contaminated water entered the Narrandera water supply causing chlorine levels to fall rapidly and residents told to boil water but this has since been rectified. Council announced on Tuesday that the water was safe to drink and did not need boiling.

“Staff have subsequently been able to access the bores, clear them of flood water and restore chlorine levels to safe water standards,” Cr Kschenka said.

Further flood-proofing of the bores will be included in Council’s application for flood betterment projects.

Mayor Kschenka said he would like to place on record Council’s and the community’s sincere appreciation for all the efforts that went into keeping residents safe during this flood event.

“I include Council staff in that thank you, as many of them have worked extremely long hours during the emergency. Assistance that has been provided to evacuees, folk isolated, motorists and the farming community generally has been tremendous and much of it from volunteers.”

Narrandera Argus 24 November 2022

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 24 November 2022.

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