Flood of protest over drainage

By Lachlan Durling

RESIDENTS could be left in deep water – literally – after Campaspe Shire council declined to discuss the controversial South Boundary Rd drainage scheme at its July meeting.

Instead councillors opted to leave the paperwork on the table until a future meeting.

Even worse; Kyabram residents who had travelled to Echuca for the meeting, were denied the opportunity to address council – sparking an angry walkout.

The works have now also caused alarm with Parkland Golf Club and Kyabram Racecourse Reserve Trust.

The controversial scheme to fill the Belthorpe Estate roadside drain on South Boundary Rd has left downstream residents and businesses fearing for their properties.

They have concerns the current works could increase the risk of flooding due to restricted drainage out to McEwen Rd.

Despite letters and a petition frustrated residents said they haven’t received a written reply from council since May this year.

Kyabram’s Don McKenzie was outraged he was barred from speaking at the meeting even though he went armed with written consent to do so.

The former Kyabram Shire councillor and current Belthorpe Estate neighbour was planning to express his concerns about the scheme.

A scheme he is convinced is a breach of council policy as roadside drains are to “provide drainage for the road” and council must “ensure the road function does not adversely impact on drainage of land in the area”.

“The matter before councillors is relatively simple as the issues hinge on common sense, logic, honesty and integrity,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Mistakes happen and misinterpretations of information can also occur,” he said.

“In our flat country you don’t mess with historic drainage in an isolated manner as proposed by council staff – it requires big picture thinking and detailed study, all of which costs a lot of money.

“We have to accept what we have – but certainly no reduction or removal of existing infrastructure.

“Would councillors take such a gamble with their own properties?

“I’m sure you wouldn’t and as such we believe there is no other course of action that can be taken.”

The Free Press understands the interruption of the South Boundary Rd drainage means water flows will be diverted through a drainage channel on the western boundary of Kyabram Parkland Golf Club.

It will then join a lake overflow – a concrete drain which runs through the Parkland Golf Club, constructed as part of the 1975 ‘red scheme’ to assist in draining the Fauna Park lake and golf course out toward McEwen Rd.

After the meeting mayor Adrian Weston told the Free Press councillors didn’t have the necessary information on hand to open the item for deliberation.

That is despite a report council received advising the filling of the South Boundary Rd table drain would not work unless “restricted flows” downstream were rectified.

The drainage investigative report is based on information provided by Campaspe Shire and a site inspection carried out by Heil Engineering Consultants and suggested further investigation was required to reach a conclusion.

The drain on Parkland’s western boundary is currently lined with a mix of peppercorn and gum trees and full of plant life, which will have to be cleared as part of the scheme.

Because of this, landowners across the road from Belthorpe Estate fear increased risks of flooding if the proposed plans go ahead, questioning the capacity of the drain in its current state and while works would be progressing.

When the Free Press contacted the Kyabram Racecourse Reserve Trust for comment, members were unaware the scheme would leave them underwater.

Reserve trust secretary Ian Purdey said the group was waiting for further correspondence from Campaspe Shire as their members were not aware of the changes.

The Parkland Golf Club committee was aware and estimated more than 100 of its trees will have to be removed as well as the relocation of three tees as part of the drainage project.

Parkland Golf Club secretary Peter Fraser expressed concerns the plan could impact the golf club and neighbouring properties after a sudden rain.

“The current drainage (which extends from the lake) is able to clear the course in about 48 hours if we get a very heavy rain, but if there’s an extra drain running in you have to wonder what will take priority, the lake overflow or South Boundary Rd?” he said.

“A two to three inch rain would create some sort of mayhem and most likely back up the lake drain and overflow onto the course.”