ADRIFT: MP calls on Feds to anchor future of flood levee
There's only so much a mighty sandbag can do during major flooding events.
During the recent state election campaign Labor committed $42.5m for the Bundaberg East Levee and now Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith is calling on the Federal Government to meet them halfway.
The levee is part of the Bundaberg 10-Year Action Plan which highlights the potential measures necessary to reduce flood risks in Bundaberg.
The plan was borne in the wake of the havoc wreaked by ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald in 2013.
The Bundaberg flood protection study page states 2400 properties were destroyed or damaged, 7000 people were evacuated and 600 businesses were damaged.
The action plan, which includes a proposed flood levee in East Bundaberg, is a commitment by the Queensland Government to build on work undertaken by the Bundaberg Regional Council.
Mr Smith said they were already delivering for road infrastructure, and now they need deliver for flood mitigation as well.
The Action Plan includes four interventions designed to mitigate against future flood risk; Bundaberg North evacuation routes, Bundaberg East Levee, Upper Floodplain Evacuation Improvements and Floodway House Purchase Scheme.
According to the December 2020 update for the levee, would include the construction of a concrete levee wall consisting of two main segments covering about 1.7km, installation
of associated flood gates at key outflow points with pump stations and the rejuvenation of community open space adjacent to the levee.
"Timeframes for the finalisation of project design and construction will not be confirmed until a funding contribution from the Commonwealth Government is achieved," the document reads.
Mr Smith said Deputy Premier Steven Miles wrote to Michael McCormack last year after the State Election, asking for the Federal Government to contribute their share of the project, so they can begin to deliver the levee.
"I continue to call upon the Federal Government to commit to what is a key piece of regional infrastructure, that will improve flood mitigation, safety and the creation of local jobs," he said.
Mr Smith said it was important all levels of government are involved in delivering this project.
"I know that the people of Bundaberg want to see this important piece of infrastructure delivered for the safety of our community and that is why I am committed to seeing construction begin as soon as possible," he said.
"However, this can only be done by ensuring that the Federal Government comes to the table and meets the commitment already delivered by myself and the State Government."
Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said all he knew about the levee proposal was what was announced during the State election campaign and what he had read in the media.
"I have not seen a proposal, however local residents have approached my office with a number of concerns about the proposed levee," he said.
"Any funding application would have to be accompanied by a business case study confirming its viability and costs.
"I have concerns about the cost estimation and potential of a levee to split the community.
"The flood which [devastated] Bundaberg was in 2013 and yet, here we are at the start of 2021 with no flood mitigation measures in place."
The NewsMail asked Mr Pitt what some of the residents' concerns were but he would not disclose the matters raised by individuals citing privacy reasons.
Mr Pitt did not offer alternative flood mitigations measures.
The Bundaberg flood protection study fact sheet states that one mitigation option which was not recommended, Millaquin Bend, should be "reconsidered" if the levee is "not progressed or is delayed".
"Many of the benefits due to widening Millaquin Bend would overlap with the Bundaberg East levee option," it reads.
"While the study determined that further consideration of Option F [Millaquin Bend] is warranted it is not recommended at this stage, although this should be reconsidered if the Bundaberg East levee is not progressed or is delayed".
For more information on the Bundaberg 10-Year Action Plan, click here.
For more about the Bundaberg flood protection study, click here.