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At last! Whiteman ‘canal’ to be drained

05 Jun 2017

At last! Whiteman ‘canal’ to be drained Image

By Sean Car

The City of Melbourne is finally responding to years of major flooding issues on Whiteman St with drainage upgrade works starting this month.

Touted by council as its “highest drainage priority”, residents and businesses have been dealing with floods along Whiteman St for years due to the area's low-lying nature.

The $1.02 million works began on June 5 and will take about three months to complete.

In a letter addressed to residents in May, City of Melbourne principal engineer infrastructure Michael Norton said locals could expect ongoing disruptions while the upgrades took place.

“By their nature, drainage works can be disruptive,” he wrote. “We anticipate that the technology used to undertake these works will substantially reduce the noise and disruption traditionally associated with drainage works.”

According to council, the works will involve the installation of about 220 metres of new underground drainage infrastructure, primarily using micro-tunneling technology.

The works will cross nearby tram tracks opposite 99 Whiteman St and pass through Normanby Rd Reserve, where it will connect to existing council drainage adjacent to the Port Melbourne tram junction.

Council provided an update on the project in its recent 2017/18 draft budget, noting the works as part of its $4.59 million flood mitigation program.

It also noted that a Clarendon St flood mitigation drainage design and underground services/land tenure investigation was in progress, with tenders to be called in June. A council spokesperson confirmed that this would include further drainage and pump station works near the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Due to its low-lying nature and because many of the existing storm water pipes sit lower than water level in the Yarra River, the area has long been prone to flooding.

However, according to council, the scale and incidence of the flooding has been exacerbated significantly since Yarra Trams concluded its upgrade works to the Port tram junction in February 2016.

While former councillor Stephen Mayne last year informed residents that works to comprehensively alleviate flooding in the area would cost the city in the realm of $130 million, council has yet to announce any further long terms plans.  

Southbank Local News contacted council to confirm whether current works were part of a long-term plan but its spokesperson did not comment on any further plans.

Whiteman St resident Peter Gibbs said if the works did indeed solve flooding issues in the area it would be cause for great celebration.  

“Fingers crossed their efforts resolve the problem and heavy rains or king tides don’t extend the works extra months,” he said. “Tongue-in-cheek, residents should consider having a street party after (and if) the drainage works are completed and proven effective to celebrate the occasion.”

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