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.


  1. Trevin   •  

    This has concerned us from the start as our on-site consultations with officers to discuss the impact on us were practically fruitless. The officers provided us with a nice chat, but could provide us with NO definite detail of the impact on our property. Creek residents have provided feedback without any detailed knowledge of what is in store for them. The residents along the creek who are subject to “creek rehabilitation” have also formed their opinion without detail of what is actually proposed on their properties. The term “creek rehabilitation” sounds harmless, but I fear that it means much more than just a clean up of the creek course and the reality may be much more loss of amenity than residents perceive. Residents have made their comments/feedback in the consultation not being able to obtain the detail of the impact on their properties. Lack of detail certainly makes reliable costing impossible, especially with so many individual properties and owners to satisfy with their unique wishes.

    • Don Palmer   •     Author

      I obviously share your concerns Trevin.

      A lack of detail at the time of advertising a budget will usually be the biggest trigger for budgets overrunning or blowing out.This is my concern when making a difference between three options.

      Of course your dilemma is you don’t get to make a qualified decision on what is going to occur in your own backyard for the same reason. If people cant visual is what actually is happening as I have discussed in another blog post what hope have they if there is no detail.

      The problem then is the project committing (or shoudl I say the 5 councils) committing to spend that money now rather than later in order to improve the decision making process. This is something that we obviously would l be reluctant to do prior to where we are now because it means spending $ on each of the possible options. And that is fair enough,it potentially is being wasteful with the design spend.

      In the circumstances maybe we should at least cost or should I say detail and cost this option because,at the end of the day, it is likely to get over the line.

      • James   •  

        If the Stormwater Managment Plan is delayed because Unley aren’t happy with the proposal put to it, and perhaps agreed by the other Councils, will Unley pick up the cost of damage if there is a flood while these further studies and costings continue?

        The Plan has been costed and evaluated. It was found that Option D was the best way forward. Why should a $150 million project be held up because Unley Council, for some obscure reason, doesen’t agree with it?

        • Don Palmer   •     Author

          I am seriously considering doing just that James. And that is actually to bring forward that which must be done if the project is approved to proceed. No delays.Sorry but I would have though get it right is the most responsible thing to do.

          If detailed design work vindicates the cost then we proceed at the same pace as would have been. It just means the money coming up with a detailed design pre-dates the decision to proceed rather than happen after the decision.

          If we find there is a cost blow-out and the difference in cost between options is found not to be the case then surely that warrants a rethink.And I can see the headlines now when a cost blow out is found. Budget blow-out by incompetent councils had a chance to get the numbers right. We see this all the time.

          Make no mistake if there is a flood while this work is undertaken there can be no claim against Unley with no delay being caused by pushing final decisions only to later in the program.By the way Part B works will not proceed for probably ten years while we await completion of the part A works which has long since been approved.

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