Unley decides and protects the creek owners

Last Tuesday night Unley made a decision on Brownhill Creek. A decision in line with the other 4 councils but a decision that protects the creek owners.

 

Minutes-Special-Council-29-September-2015_ext=Whilst we were the last to make a decision and we took two dedicated meetings to do it we have continued with the decision made to provide leadership on the complexity that is Brownhill Creek. Way back when we backed exploring the culvert option to ease the pain of the property owners adjacent Brownhill Creek Conservation Park. We were the council promoting water harvesting back in 2012. We are the council now who is watching out for the interests of the creek owners.

In making the decision we have, and I understand that Minister Hunter is grateful for the decision we have made, we have ensured that the SMA will not take the project away from Local Government which means that the interests of our rate payers will not be lost. In making the decision we have the interests of those most affected by the project, the creek owners of Unley and or Mitcham will be looked after.

Had we not made the decision we made the SMA would have had the opportunity to take over the project on the basis that Local Government had demonstrated an inability to govern such a project. With respect to the SMA they are a State Government body and the State Government has a reputation of running rough shod over residents with such projects. This is evidenced by the recent grade separation of the Seaford and Belair train lines.

The decision can be found on the City of Unley website here. Click on “Special Council Minutes 29 September 2015.  Read item 3 of the motion moved by Cr Lapidge and seconded by me (it’s the last one) to better understand what we have done that sets us apart form the other councils.

 

 

Stalemate on Brownhill Creek at Unley

After a marathon session at the Unley Civic Centre Centre last night the news is we have a stalemate on Brownhill Creek. That’s at Unley that is.

 

Last nights Council meeting in front of a packed gallery too small to accommodate the interested public was reminiscent of the 1966 SANFL Grand Final Adelaide Oval. With the crowd spilling out into the bleeches that is. Certainly not in result however.

On that day the locals (Sturt) defeated Port 16.16 to 8.8, an emphatic defeat. Last night it was a stalemate, no result; a bit like that nasty feeling experienced when there is a draw in the great Aussie game of footy.

stalemate-300x153

 

My recent blog posts have highlighted where I sit in the equation, wanting more information to make a more qualified decision. I have not been happy with Option D and have proclaimed that loudly. I have also highlighted that I am equally not happy with Option B2.

As we sat to deliberate last night nothing had changed for me. There was  no further information to allow me to decide. So I went to the meeting (with apologies to everyone for my incessant coughing on the night as I recover from the Flu) expecting to vote no to either option.

Curiously this reflects the finally tuned balance in the Unley Council with both options being voted down 6 to 5.

What I did do on the night was follow the lead of Cr Anthony Lapidge who moved an amendment to the motion supporting Option D. Cr Lapidge had recognised that it does not matter what Unley Council says or does on this issue, Option D WILL be the option adopted going forward. He has correctly identified that if we don’t have a motion acceptable to the State Government and the SMA not only will Option D proceed but potentially we wont be part of the solution going forward. And our residents may get lost in the system.

His amendment addressed what I see as the major concerns of the landowners fearful of Option D and what it might mean to their property. I saw this as maybe the best opportunity Unley Council may have had to help these people get the best deal out of the inevitability that is Option D.

Appears it is now set up for a Grand Final replay, unless the SMA simply says to Unley…..had your chance…..on your bike.

 

Decisions are Pending on Brownhill Creek

Yes the decisions are pending on Brownhill Creek with West Torrens supporting Option D, Burnside Council delaying a decision on Brownhill Creek on Tuesday night, Unley next Monday night and the other two councils later this month. So over the next 3 weeks we will know where the Councils all stand.

 

For my part and as demonstrated in my series of blog posts on the subject I come into this months marathon of meetings not happy with with the information we have to make a qualified decision. Readers of this blog page would realise this.

 

Brownhill Creek Bridge

 

Whether we are talking option D or option B2 we don’t in my opinion have the information we need to make not only a qualified decision but an ergonomically and financially responsible. A decision that IS THE best solution not driven by ideology.

 

I have canvassed a number of issues in the last week or two on this platform. In this blog post I aim to bring them to a head and acknowledge a couple of other equally importation issues.

 

I have canvassed concerns over focusing on:

1    A lack of detailed design associated with Option D to allow for a better understanding of the impact of the work on creek owners properties and to provide a more detailed costing of this option

2    A lack of logic with both options pursuing a quick discharge of stormwater through the system rather than the community wide local government understanding that retention and allowing a slow feed over time.

3    Dispelling myths from all groups that have been promoting a self interest cause, including the Project.

4    Enlightening the uninformed on what a dam might look it.

5    Questioning why we cant incorporate a stormwater harvesting component to the solution.

 

So as decisions are pending on Brownhill Creek my head is in addressing the need for more detail for better clarity and costing and addressing the the sensible approach of stormwater harvesting. The motion on the table does not provide this and I am not convinced the B2 option does either.

 

If Option D falls over as I suspect it will on Monday night, and Jennies advertised B2 motion also struggles I am drafting a motion that allows more work to be done on both options to allow a more qualified decision.

 

 

Why not a Brownhill Creek stormwater harvesting opportunity.

As we close in on our decision on the way to go I ask Why not a Brownhill Creek stormwater harvesting opportunity?

 

Ridge ParkI refer to our resolution of August 2012 calling for “other methods not currently in use (to) diminish local flooding” to be explored. I am disappointed that no more stormwater harvesting opportunities have been identified than previously reported in the 2012 stormwater management plan. I say this particularly in relation to the potential offered by collecting stormwater for reuse in a flood control dam in Ellisons Gully, recognising that the economic benefits during drought of such an opportunity could make Option B2 more attractive.

Back in 2012 the City Unley called on the project to explore more stormwater harvesting opportunities. This was no idle request. We had taken the lead with the detention dam we recently completed up at Ridge Park in Myrtle Bank. This is a project that incorporated an aquifer recharge.

The Project was well aware of this project, having provided the design work for it. It is a project that achieve water harvesting outcomes on Glen Osmond Creek, noting the increase from 20 ML per annum to 60 ML per annum found for both flood control and water harvesting. This is contributing to the watering of Unley’s parks and gardens, saving our rate payers the cost of paying for water from other sources.

We have been told access into that aquifer is not possible in Ellisons Gully but my memory is we were told the same thing about Ridge Park. We pursued investigating this and found not only was it possible but we did it.

So Option D may yet have stormwater harvesting opportunities. The same can be said I suggest for Option B2.

So why not a Brownhill Creek stormwater harvesting opportunity? Why not explore if there is an ecologically and financially responsible solution.

 

 

Brownhill Creek Am I any closer to a decision

Sooner or later it comes down to this. Brownhill Creek Am I any closer to a decision?

 

Pragmatists-IdealistsAm I any closer?

I have tried to decipher for my own benefit what the factors re that go to making the correct decision. This has not been easy having said that.

 

 

An interesting challenge for someone who sees himself not as a politician but more of a pragmatist. I have to make a decision and I am trying hard to get the balanced view.

A politician I am I recognise however. And I recognise the politics of the situation I find myself in.

The “No Dam” case which gained momentum in 2102 put their political case well and captured the hearts of the state. Back then and isolated the City of Mitcham, alone amongst the 5 councils, fought hard to promote a no dam case.

Unley, too (amongst the councils) were the pragmatists, worked to ensure all possible options were explored.

As other options were explored including options that never in my mind had any credence including the high flow culverts an option emerged only as a result of revised hydrology being provided courtesy of the BOM.

Throughout this process however I have learnt how politics plays such a factor in public decision making. I have continuously been lobbied. By special interest groups, by my fellow councillors, by City of Mitcham Councillors. I have the same people plus City of West Torrens councillors, and of course the press query what my position is.

You know what. As we speak I still have one or two unanswered questions and/or concerns that remain unresolved. So whichever way you think I might be leaning (and I am leaning one way) I have yet to make my final decision. I expect that I will swing one way or the other as the deputations we are likely to receive on the night and the debate around the table occur.

For those who think they can still lobby me I want to remain a pragmatist and any argument provided by a self interest group I will treat as opinion only. Please don’t you may lose me.

 

 

Never mind Options B1, B2, D what about do nothing?

Never mind Option B1, B2, D is there another solution as yet not investigated.

 

Many readers of this series of blogs may well have thought my vote is likely to be for either Option B1 of option B2 and not option D. But I canvas now the question raised briefly in my post on the 30th August.

Let us start by asking should solutions not investigated by the Project be considered. Yes I say and why not.

When I look at the flooding potential of the creek and I look at what the Project now believe will be the 1 in 100 year flood I question whether the extreme expenditure identified can be truly justified. As I reported in a recent post the 2012 proposal included a cost comparison of between being proactive and being reactive.

dollar-sign-on-treadmillWe have costs suggested to us for a number of proactive options. Much debate has ensued over the difference in the costs proposed for either options B1 & 2 or Option D. Unlike previously curiously we have no costs proposed for the repairs that would be required given the current hydrology we are working on now in the event we do nothing.

 

Not knowing this cost means my next observations are guesses. Sorry about that but the theory needs to be examined whether we have costs available to back them up or to refute them.

Why should 5 councils commit their ratepayers to an expense they don’t need to commit to is a question that I would have thought should be part of any investigation into the feasibility of a project of this type. It was good enough 5 years ago when there was no great difference between being proactive and being reactive.

It should be good enough to do the same thing now.

This has not been forthcoming inspite of my requesting it.

Indeed on reading the hydrology that we have received I fully question whether or not we simply clean out the creek and be done with it. The do nothing option if you can call if that.

Having said that I wonder if we should actually be looking at higher values given the predictions that we will have less frequent but more intense rainfall.

 

What is the best Brownhill Creek solution for the environment?

Is Option D the best Brownhill Creek solution for the environment?

 

One of the promotions behind proponents of Option D is that it is a dam is ecologically irresponsible, that we would be destroying the environment in this area. This has been picked up and supported by many people from around the greater metropolitan area and indeed country areas.

A similar argument, raised by the creek owners, is that the same is the case for the Eco system that is the creek itself. Drowned out as it where by the intensity of those promoting the no dam case this argument has gained no traction with the public. It has with me however as a decision maker.

Their argument is that creek widening too will damage the environment. They argue that the creek widening proposal under option D will potentially decimate a much more important and a delicate Eco system, which stretches from the area of the dam all the way to the coast.

The City of Unley website I suggest backs up this view encouraging creek owners to do the opposite to what the project is promoting.

The creek owners argue that the loss of trees (including significant) is far more significant than the loss of trees in the proposed dam area. The significant number of trees earmarked for removal and I suggest this will grow when push comes to shove will remove instead of create habitat for local wildlife as noted on the website.

With respect to those who have focused on the area of the dam, the creek itself I believe and suggest as it meanders from the proposed dam site all the way down to the ocean is every bit as ecologically important.

As a builder I am concerned that the number of trees identified as being lost under option D is too ambitious. Until construction commences we cannot determine with any confidence in such a tight construction environment how many trees may be vulnerable to the construction process.

If we don’t recognise this potential and give it due credence then I fear we will have storey after storey after storey of “sorry, it was an accident, it could not be avoided”. Too late when that happens.

Detain it OR flush it.

Never mind such things as costs, trees and other arguments I believe we should be including consideration of deciding between detain it or flush when making the final decision on Brownhill Creek.

 

dripping tapThe original engineering before the politics of “damming” the Brownhill Creek National Park was always centred around detaining the 100 year flow so that it would be manageable. In the more recent days the focus has been to move the water trough the creek system as fast as we can and get it out to the sea.

Why the change?

running-tapThe more I think on this the more I get disturbed at the likelihood of someone falling into the upper reaches of the creek in a storm and being swept all the way down stream in an uncontrollable torrent. Uncontrollable because we have designed it that way. Worse still I would hate to think that someone is a child. I have images in my head of the recent Queensland floods and people being swept in the current downstream.

I have  a real issue with being responsible for allowing this to be possible.

I am also troubled as a builder (once again) with us not trying to detain the flow. Providing a retention/detention tank on site is a must  now in order to obtain development approval in many councils for any building work in excess of as little as 40 m2 of roof area. The reason for this is to delay the flow of stormwater/roof rainwater for a period of 2 or 3 days after a severe storm. The reason for this in turn is to avoid choking up the street stormwater system that can no longer cope with storms and the flooding that will inevitably eventuate.

And here as I read it we are creating a greater flow than probably all the houses that are being redeveloped together could create and saying that is a preferred option.

I will be looking for assurances on this.

 

 

Is Option D the most cost effective?

I have heard repeatedly from supporters of a no dam solution that is the solution the project believes is the most cost effective solution. 

 

dollar-sign-on-treadmillProponents of a dam however indicate the project has not properly accounted for litigation costs from property owners on the creek. I am far from a legal expert so there is not much I can offer there.

What has not been debated however and what I can comment on is, is the accuracy of construction costs proposed?

 

As someone with 40 years plus in the building industry I believe the Project is guessing at best, albeit by independent experts, when it comes to the physical building cost of the project. Whether costing the dam or the creek widening the experts can only make a best guess if they don’t have detailed design.

I ask anyone taking the trouble of reading this however how often do we hear of government projects going over budget. If you are honest, too many is the answer. Why? Because we present to the public a budget before the detail is available. And why do we do that? Because the cost of preparing detailed design is a costly exercise in its own right.

 

The intricacies of the creek widening concerns me and I am disinclined to accept the cost estimates at face value and that is no criticism of those who prepared the budget.

I am acutely aware of the lack of design work within the City of Unley having spoken with property owners along the creek. One very common storey I hear from these property owners is the Project is unable to tell them what is intended in their property. The report itself says on page 43 “the estimated properties requiring works are identified” meaning the extent of widening/walls is not determined.

The number of properties with creek works needed that is lacking detail design leaves me concerned that the budget is likely to blow out alarmingly.

Will the cost be contained under budget with any option? Hopefully yes but probably not.

To be able then to vote for option D is made hard for me without a better confidence on the costs. Indeed, as I write this, I think I may discuss this issue with our management.

Brownhill Creek Myths

Over time there have been a number of Brownhill Creek Myths that have been perpetuated by people on all sides of the various arguments. Indeed the project has been plagued by this since I first became involved.

 

MythIt all began when the proponents of the no dam campaign kicked off their campaign with the first myth. We were being told that there would be a dirty great big concrete wall that would destroy the ambiance of the Brownhill Creek National Park.

 

I have responded to this in an earlier post this week, complete with a drawing showing what was actually proposed.

We then experienced another myth as those against hi-flow culverts in the back streets of Unley Park and Millswood, offered as an alternative, when we were being told that no-one would ever be able to drive to their home because the culvert would take up the full width of the street. of course these people could not visualise that the culvert would be enclosed under their street.

Next myth was when we started looking at a creek upgrade and we were being told that what we were proposing was concrete walls for the full length of the creek.

All of these were and are simply inaccurate.

At our last briefing we at Unley were reminded by our representatives on the steering committee of a number or other myths. Myth or truth….at the end of the day it is all about perspective and belief.

The biggest myth by the way is the promotion by the Steering committee that Option D was explored by them because this was the “preferred” option of the councils. As I have oft said this is not the case at all.

The motion moved at Unley by Cr Saies and Seconded by Cr Boisvert back in February 2014 in exploring a creek upgrade was that “the BHKC Steering Committee place priority on investigating a creek upgrade solution for the upper reaches of the Brownhill Keswick Creek (BHKC) stormwater project”.

Checking the City of Mitcham minutes they resolved the exact same motion and I believe without looking the other three councils would have voted  likewise.

Priority to investigating NOT preference for a no dam.

In the following May we also resolved our “support for the investigations taking place”, moved this time by Cr Boisvert and Seconded by Cr Sangster.

Make no mistake. Giving preference to a no dam solution was never a Council mandate.

That does not of course change the fact the the Project believes, after all that, that Option D is their preferred option which they have backed up with a lot of evidence.

Brownhill Creek Owners Apathy

Council has been briefed on the public consultation for Brownhill Creek. It (the consultation) has thrown up some interesting observations.

 

The consultation and the reporting back from our consultant Natalie Fuller was split into two. Natalie has differentiated between those who received an invitation to the consultation and those who did not receive an invitation but who chose of their own volition to participate.

The most notable was what appears to be an apathy on the part of the creek owners. Only half of them responded to the survey and that after the project and our consultant Natalie Fuller followed up on them to make sure they did not miss out.

Lets face it the creek owners are those most affected by Option D, the projects preferred option.

As I study the survey results provided by Natalie Fuller I found a umber of interesting  observations. Half this group did not provide comment on a preference  and the other half were split 50/50 on Option D or an Option B.

I must say I would have thought we would have had a greater response from this group of people. Is this evidence of a Brownhill Creek Owners Apathy

Could it be that they do not support those of their neighbours who have fought a fight against the yards being carved up in order to save a dam being built? Could it be that they have been frustrated by what they see as the non stop consultation over the last 12 months and are consulted out?

Could it be that those who are going to be inconvenienced no matter what option proceeds figure there is no point in participating? 29 properties will be impacted under Option B1 and 22 under Option B2. 66 will be impacted under Option D.

I don’t know that we will ever be able to ask these questions.

What we can say is in not contributing these people cannot reasonably complain once a decision is made and work finally gets under way……..in 10 years or so.

 

What would the Brownhill Creek Dam look like?

The next question I have in my mind as everyone debates the dam v the no dam everyone is what would the Brownhill Creek Dam look like?

 

As I attempt to answer that one the first thing I need to do is clarify that there never has been proposed a dam for this project as most would perceive a dam. A dam as most of us see it is a barrier that permanently holds water. It typically has a visually stark man made wall as the primary means used to hold the water. Do a google search and this is what you find in all the images that come up.

Is this what was proposed in Brownhill Creek (B1)? No it’s not.

From the moment I have been on Council we have been talking a retention dam. Unlike all those images on Google this is a dam that has no water in it until and unless there is a heavy rain. The theory is that we want to hold back any potential flooding by way of a barrier that allows water to flow out at a slower rate over a few days after the rain event.

20150831_153526When I first studied the details provided I saw what I instinctively knew the public (and I guess a number 0f elected members) did not see.

I saw a new hill being created and valleys either side of it in place of the original location of hills and valleys. A new landscape in lieu of the original landscape. Talking to people including at the time elected members

I can tell you they told me they saw a dirty great big concrete wall.

How many people who indicate now that they are against the dam know this? It is my opinion that most people and elected members see what you see in google when you search “dam”.

Two entirely different pictures. One you can understand there being opposition to. The other I argue would not be something that any one can be reasonably opposed to on the grounds of its physical presence.

If  am right and these people understand as I do then one must ask how then would they have voted.

 

Why do we no longer need a dam in Brownhill Creek?

Why do we no longer need a dam in Brownhill Creek when every solution prior to 2012 required one?

projects_4

Back in 2012 and before a dam was always seen as part of the answer. Every engineering solution included a dam, somewhere. It was politically unpopular in some quarters however having said that.

Now the Project says we do not need a dam to achieve the flooding protection desired. Many people against the dam are reminding us that all the engineering solutions do not require a dam.

Interestingly before the change of focus on a no dam solution ALL the engineering solutions included a dam. A complete turnaround.

We have moved from a continuous we must have a dam to an emphatic a dam is not necessary. What has caused this I ask?

Some time ago all 5 councils endorsed looking at no dam solutions. We did this in my opinion to ensure we have given due diligence by searching all possible options.

Within it seems days this had become in the public arena that the 5 councils had endorsed a “preferred no dam” policy. This soon became the ideology of the Project too, reinforcing the public expectation. And more recently of course the public consultation was based on the Project presenting (without Council approval I hasten to add) a preference for a no dam solution.

It is my opinion that the project have got caught up in the politics of the situation and became hell bent on providing the solution that they thought they were charged to find rather than find the right solution. Promoting one solution, particularly one that appears to be the politically expedient one, in a public consultation gives me cause to think this way.

So in an environment where experts are advising the intensity of rainfall in the hills face will be greater than when we needed a dam we now don’t need a dam.

I find it difficult therefore to believe that the solution does not include a dam as part of the solution.

Brownhill Creek what are we trying address

The first question in this series of blog posts I ask as I move toward a decision with Brownhill Creek is this …. Brownhill Creek what are we trying to address. I have doubt in my mind that we truly do know what we are trying to achieve.

 

We are on the surface designing a scheme to deal with a nominal 1 in 100 year flood with whatever iprojects_4mpact that may have. I believe that there are two factors have impacted heavily on this.

Firstly we are trying to protect properties along and adjacent the creek. The debate however has centred on dam v no dam.

The voices of those who live on or near the creek have subsequently been (pardon the pun) drowned out during the public debate.

The second and what I want to focus on here is the goalposts have shifted in the time I have been involved.

The Bureau of Meteorology have come up with revised statistics for predicting a 100 year flood with Adelaide’s rain fall getting less. We are being told to expect that our rainfall is going to get less annually, that there will be fewer events but that the rainfall intensity per event will be higher.

Curiously we have a design now that is expecting less severe floods than that we were contemplating when the 5 councils agreed to look at no dam solutions. There are now very few if any above floor flooding situations along the creek than what we were originally expecting.

If this is so and I struggle that it would be with more intense rain events then we would expect I believe that the cost of repairs from flooding would reduce from what we were advised back in 2012. And yet the cost of all the mitigation solutions currently proposed has increased from one that was very much similar to after the fact repairs back then has risen sharply.

I spite of asking I have yet to be advised by the project what they expect the cost of repairs would be now so that we can compare it against mitigation. We could do that in 2012 when it was a basis used for justifying mitigation against doing nothing but not now it would appear to be considered as irrelevant.

I doubt that this information will become available and it is critical in my mind to the solution. Without this information I believe we cannot truly make a responsible decision. Let’s face it, this information may tell us that economically we do not need to take any action based on current hydrology.

Brownhill Creek Decision looms

Yes. The long awaited Brownhill Creek decision looms… the decision…my decision.

 

In what is one of the most significant issues to be dealt with by the Unley Council we soon will be deciding which option is the most appropriate in providing appropriate flood mitigation in the Brownhill Creek catchment area?

And that decision, the decision of each of the 5 councils, and of course my decision is due in September.

projects_4In the last month each Council has received the Projects report on the public consultation. This Council will be briefed on the project on Monday night in readiness for the decision.

 

 

It may be that we consider a special meeting rather than our normal meeting to deal with this, such is its importance and the depth of the issue.

Of all the issues that have been bought before Council in my short time on Council this one has had the most exposure, the most debate and taken the longest to deal with. In the last few months I have watched the toing and froing of the various public special interest groups as they argue their case and dispute the bona-fides of the other groups.

There are a lot of people out there who think they know what the answer is and will judge us on the decision we make based on their perception of what is right and what is not. Whilst there is surely a temptation to go with the popular vote we make must, a decision that is the best solution for all with a special weighting towards those most affected, the property owners along and adjacent the creek at risk of flooding.

With this in mind I have already read the many responses from the public consultation and will now sit down to review all the information available (including from the briefing) and then some. I have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks and have a lot of unanswered questions that I need a response to.

Between now and whenever the meeting is called I intend to share with you through a series of blog posts (maybe a half dozen or so) my thoughts and understanding of the various issues and questions as I work myself toward a Brownhill Creek Decision.

Brownhill Creek Public Consultation complete

The six week Brownhill Creek Public Consultation is now complete.

 

projects_4The outcomes of the Brownhill Creek Public Consultation process will now be reported to the five catchment councils. Each council will then determine its position and a final recommendation on the Part B works will be made by the BHKC Stormwater Project to the 5 member councils ready to report finally to the State Government’s Stormwater Management Authority. It has been anticipated that this recommendation will be made by September 2015.

The public have had there turn and now it is up to the BHKC Stormwater Project to compile the results of the consultation ready to report. And then….it will be up to us, the elected members of the 5 member councils, to make a decision. And then the Stormwater Management Authority will be advised of our decision.

That will likely be just as interesting as the public debate that has ensued for some time now. And I don’t doubt that public participation will still be omnipresent.

I don’t know how many people communicated direct to the BHKC Stormwater Project but I do know I have been inundated with claim and counter claim myself. I am also aware of the debate that has transpired in the media as one group refutes and disputes claims made by those with different views.

Although broke and with no funding in their forward budgets the Government requires all 5 councils to agree on a final plan otherwise it (the State Government) will takeover the project. Three of the five councils are directly impacted by the results that will soon be known to us. The needs of each council are of course at variance to each other. The other two have little direct involvement. So getting what the Government is asking for will be a challenge in its own right.

As the report is put to the member councils and their elected members I will be looking for a number of issues I have identified, including that not in the public debate, before I cast my vote.

Obviously until this comes to its natural conclusion (if it can be deemed natural that is) ……… watch this space.

Brownhill Creek Final Public Consultation

The final Brownhill Creek Final Public Consultation, as reported in my last blog post on Brownhill Creek has commenced.

 

Members of the public have been invited to learn more about and comment on proposed flood mitigation measures for upper Brownhill Creek.  The community consultation process commenced last Wednesday 13 May. It will conclude on Tuesday 23 June, 2015.

The consultation will focus on the Brown Hill Keswick Creek Stormwater Project’s “Part B Report” for upper Brown Hill Creek. This report investigated eight flood mitigation options aimed at improving flood protection for homes and properties across the catchment.

All options involve two types of work along upper Brown Hill Creek to reduce the risk of flooding during high stormwater flows:

  1. Creek capacity upgrade works in critical sections (which vary for the eight options) to increase the capacity of the creek so it can carry more water; and
  1. Creek rehabilitation works along its full length to assist the flow of water along the creek and improve its biodiversity.

Three of the eight options (Options B1, B2 and D) were analysed in more detail as these are seen by the project team as the most viable and cost effective options. Of these, the “Creek Capacity Upgrade (Option D)” has been identified by the team as the preferred option as it is deemed by them as the most cost effective way of achieving the necessary flood mitigation.

The consultation process will include four open days for residents to learn more about proposed works and provide feedback to project staff. The open days have been scheduled for the following dates:

Monday 18 May 2015
Drop in anytime between 2pm-6pm at the Unley Community Centre (18 Arthur St, Unley)

Sunday 24 May 2015
Drop in anytime between 11am-3pm at the Unley Community Centre (18 Arthur St, Unley)

Thursday 28 May 2015
Drop in anytime between 2pm-6pm at the Mitcham Civic Centre (131 Belair Rd, Torrens Park)

Saturday 30 May 2015
Drop in anytime between 10am-2pm at the Mitcham Civic Centre (131 Belair Rd, Torrens Park)

Members of the public are invited to have their say by completing a feedback form or submitting a written submission before 23 June 2015.

Your say is important and will be taken on board. As reported in my blog post on 29 April you don’t have to follow the project teams recommendations.

The outcomes of the community consultation process will be reported to the five catchment councils. Each council will then determine its position and a final recommendation on Part B works will be made to the State Government’s Stormwater Management Authority.

For more information about the project or to request a feedback form, visit www.bhkcstormwater.com.au, email [email protected] or call 1800 468 835.

 

Brownhill Creek goes out for final Public Consultation

It seems such a long time ago but during my time on Council (just 4 1/2 years) we have finally seen this project finally get to the point of a final public consultation. As detailed a project as it is and as diverse the options and the views on those options the consultation I believe is focused on one option….Option D.

 

That is a formal consultation because as most would know there has been an ongoing conversation for a long time now.

I am thankful it will now be formally in the public arena. I am concerned that the conversation will be somewhat stifled and restricted from the people exploring all options. I am hopeful that this will not be the case.

I supported a motion last night by my co-councilor Jennie Boisvert to remove all reference to a preferred option so that the public debate would cover all options. Too often Councils go out to consultation talking their own language and not recognising how best to talk to the people that will be responding to the survey/consultation.

Unfortunately my colleagues did not see what we saw and we have lost an opportunity to take a lead among the 5 councils involved.

Suffice it to say you all have the opportunity now over the next couple of months to have your say and let the steering committee and the 5 councils know what you believe is the way forward. It will be a 6 week consultation period commencing mid May. Watch out for news on when and how you can contribute.

 

Flood Waters rise

The ink had barely dried on my post of 9 March on this blog page when we see the flood water rise with yet another public interest group. I have received indirectly a letter from this new group, the FORTREES.

 

FORTREES is as pronunciation …. for trees.

They have invited people to visit their Facebook page and like. I could not find the site.

This communication is yet another negative response to one of many proposal being put by the experts. Another in a long line of don’t you dare do this.

No dams, no culverts, no easements and now simply leave the creek alone.

As I said back on the 9th, I can’t wait for the full flurry when the consultation becomes official.

 

 

PS    In the meantime the ridge park dam construction is well under way and on schedule. Word is that the project is proceeding well with local residents appreciative of the contractors efforts to minimize inconvenience.

And while many thought we would lose many trees including one tree older than civilization this has not eventuated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flood before the flood.

As council awaits the final report before going out to the public to discuss the options available to us on the Brownhill Creek Flood Mitigation plan it is very much in the public focus.

 

I don’t think I have picked up a copy of the Eastern Courier this year without an article warning the councils they need to get it right.

The development of this plan has been running way longer than I have been on Council but has intensified during my tenure.

During my time on Council I have seen us endure the flood of criticism of the State Government accusing us of taking too long to come up with a solution and threatening to take it out of our hands.

I have seen two floods as separate proposals for a dam were opposed by citizens who live in the Brownhill Creek area. This flood developed into a tsunami as these residents marshaled the whole of the state to oppose any damming for a number of reasons.

The next flood was from those residents who opposed having their streets ripped up to allow for boxed culverts to be constructed to divert stormwater away from the creek where it cannot cope in a 100 year flood. This was a proposal I always knew (given my building background) would not work, there not being enough space amongst the trees, the drains and other services in and around those streets bit we had to explore the option.

The last flood and the waters are still flowing is the reaction of property owners who have the creek in the back yards. This flood is continuing unabated with something being said in public on a regular basis in the lead up to the public consultation.

The flood waters will rise when the plan finally is endorsed for public consultation and I don’t expect that now before Council’s April meeting.

Once the public consultation is complete the 5 councils will then endorse the option they believe is the correct option and all 5 councils must agree for a plan to be implemented.

Of course then it will stall indefinitely, assuming we do come to an agreement, because surprise, surprise, surprise (sorry Gomer Pyle) there is NO funding coming from either the State or the Federal Governments. And may I suggest the Councils cannot afford this on their own.

If it goes ahead funded or not Council is bound to be criticized, if it does not go ahead council is bound to be criticized. And you know what…..after all the reading I have done and the information I have absorbed I honestly wonder after all this time and all this research and the public fighting whether we need to do any of it given the hydrology we are now working with.

Will creek clearing (not creek widening, not culverts, no dams) which should have been enforced a long time ago be all that is required.

Of course if nothing happens because of the opposition to each of the proposals and a 100 year flood causes damage to life and property who will be blamed.