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.

 

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.

Stormwater Diversion Pits being installed in Cromer Parade.

 I ventured out today to witness the installation of some 28 stormwater diversion pits being installed in Cromer Parade. I was motivated to do this after having recently been asked questions about stormwater diversion pits in nearby Ormond Avenue.

 

stormwater diversion pitI also sought confirmation from our staff that my understanding was correct.

Council is keen to take every opportunity to find ways of using the stormwater that we collect from our homes or the street to help water our street trees.

If successful this means a reduced cost to ratepayers of maintaining our street trees.

The pit is a small water holding tank below ground in the nature strip which collects storm water from either the property or from the street watertable. The idea is to capture water from the property stormwater outlet and divert this water to a permeable pit in the nature strip. Once the pit is full the excess stormwater diverts to the street watertable.

Another version of a stormwater diversion pit collects stormwater from the street and treats it similarly.

The pit water slowly dissipates into the nature strip sub-soil. This then feeds adjacent trees.

The following diagram hopefully explains it better.

Stormwater Diversion Pit Installation

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unley’s Detention Dam is now under construction

While the question of whether the Brownhill Creek Detention Dam is to become part of the flood mitigation project or not goes back out to the public for their comment early next year Unley in the meantime has commenced construction of their detention dam in Ridge Park.

ridge park detention damAfter an exhaustive tender assessment process, the contract to undertake the construction of the storm water detention dam in Ridge Park was awarded to South Australian company, York Civil on 29th October 2014. The contract is expected to be finished in June 2015.

The contractor was officially permitted to begin work on site from the 10th November. Since that time, the contractor has been submitting various project plans required under the terms of the contract as well and holding of a number of start up meetings with Council’s representatives.

Work on site has involved surveying of the site, establishment of fencing to protect park users from construction activities and the removal of vegetation in accordance with all relevant approvals.

Site offices have just been erected in the tennis court area. During this current week, York Civil will be bringing the plant and equipment to be used in construction to the site. Vegetation removal will also be completed.

The site crew will arrive and complete the installation of environmental controls such as erosion protection measures and setting out the works.

Earthworks to create the foundation for the dam are expected to commence the following week.

Considering the community

Information regarding the project has been revised to reflect that construction is imminent. This has included updating Council’s website as well as installing information signs around the site.

Parking restrictions have been put in place on Barr Smith Avenue to ensure the safety of home owners and park users whilst construction vehicles commence using this street as the main access to the site. Modifications to the times that parking is banned will occur to take into consideration some the concerns of residents and park users.

Brownhill Creek Ready for Public Consultation but not before Next Year

Council last night moved a motion as follows on Brownhill Creek:

1. Receives the ‘Part B’ report from the Brown Hill Keswick Creek Stormwater Project Group contained within Attachment 1 – Brown Hill Keswick Creek Stormwater Management Plan – ‘Part B’.
2. Notes that the report (Attachment 1) recommends Option D – Creek Capacity Upgrade as a preferred technical solution to flood mitigation 
properties in upper Brown Hill Creek.

3. Notes that the Project on behalf of the five councils (Adelaide, Burnside, Mitcham, Unley and West Torrens) will undertake community engagement relating to ‘Part B’ Works within the first half of 2015.

4. Notes that feedback collected from the community during this period will be summarised in a report to the five catchment councils who will then review and make a final recommendation to the Stormwater Management Authority on ‘Part B’ Works.

This is effectively a motion that simply recognises that we will allow the Project Group to run the public campaign rather than each of the five councils doing so independently. The period of consultation as seen above will be in early 2015, when the respective new councils have the obligation to see this project through to the next stage.

The public, for the first time, will have the opportunity to engage with us on the full storey and not one component of it as has been the case to date. The full report is available for all to read and digest between now and then, the best opportunity ever for people (elected members included) to study and understand what is on offer.

A summary report is available here.

And we have been promised by our CEO that a do nothing option will be available on the table when it does go out to consultation.

Brownhill Creek Report Attracts Media Attention

Elected members have have some heavy reading to do after receiving ahead of the public release the final report prepared but the joint Council steering committee.

8 Options have been narrowed down by the steering committee to one preferred option.

The report will go before full council I believe at the end of this month for the purpose only of receiving it and determining the timing of public consultation. This needlessly is most likely going to be early next year under the auspices of the new council.

With council going into caretaker mode as of next Tuesday this is the only course of action available to Council.

The report is available on Council’s website here.

It is a comprehensive report and if you are at all interested in the flood mitigation project I encourage you to do what we will have to do. Read it. As I try to get my head around the report and more importantly the reasons behind their recommendations I would appreciate your input, either via this blog site, via email or phone.

Personally I am not convinced about the costings they have provided us, particularly for their recommended option, but more about that later.

Brownhill Creek Lobbying lifts a cog.

A number of people, passionate about their neighbourhood have increased their lobbying recently, at least toward Unley Councillors, including obviously myself.

Residents who might be impacted by culverts down their street, or who have the creek running through their property are increasingly incensed that the dam option appears to have been eliminated in favour of the above options. Certainly information out there, or that may not be out there are giving justification to these concerns.

News that West Torrens Council is thinking of withdrawing from the partnership after news the Federal Government is unlikely to provide a level of funding, likewise that Mitcham Council were going to consult immediately and only with 30 residents whose properties border the creek only on no dam options feeds these misgivings.

It was never my understanding that in exploring no dam options that the dam would no longer be an option.

Unley Council, or at least myself, has always tackled this very important project from the view that we have to look at ALL options and determine what is the best of these or the best mix of these. That means looking at dam options and no dam options.

This is the approach, as a small business man, I have taken my whole life on issues confronting me.

That is the only correct approach. There has never been room for politics in my decision making. Find the best solution and to do that you don’t eliminate any before all have been explored.

To eliminate one or more options from the public consultation is quite simply provocative in my mind. It is an insult. It demonstrates a total lack of transparency and reeks of guiding a particular and favoured response.

That is a political approach and I wont have a bar of it.

The Steering committee has delayed providing the 5 councils with the technical report as they recognise Unley’s stance that rushing into public consultation too soon and for the shortest allowable (under statute) consultation time is the responsible approach.

This should not be rushed AND ALL OPTIONS MUST BE ON THE TABLE including mixed options.

So, as this stage still spins out, again I have to say, watch this space.

Brownhill Creek technical report delayed

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise as Gomer Pyle used to say; advice from our CEO on Monday night indicated that the Brownhill technical report will not be available in July. The Steering group is not ready to release it yet.

The Steering group also appear to be following Unley logic and will likely be suggesting a 6 week consultation not the 3 weeks that Mitcham want and the statutes allow. It will be touch an go therefore as to whether or not it can be addressed at our August full council meeting. If it cant then we could see a special meeting convened.

This means we will barely have enough time before going into caretaker mode to digest it and we will only address how and when the technical report and recommendations go out for public consultation.

Whether or not the report addresses how a dam will impact on the other solutions remains to be seen. I, and am sure the majority of Unley Councilors, will not be impressed if it doesn’t.

All options on the table thanks or it is a waste of time going out to the public.

As always with this issue ……. watch this space!