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“Long-term time bomb”

10 Nov 2016

“Long-term time bomb” Image

According to former City of Melbourne councillor and finance chair Stephen Mayne the cost of fixing flooding issues at Whiteman St is around $130 million.

Speaking at the Southbank Meet the Candidates event on October 13, Mr Mayne said that was the figure needed to fully fix the issues that have been plaguing local residents for years.  

He described the issue to Southbank Local News as “a long-term time bomb” and said the likelihood of council funding the project anytime was slim.

“It will be a case of funding it one budget at a time,” he said. “It is a major capital works investment and I doubt there will be any meaningful attempt to fully fund it in a single budget.”

The Whiteman St and Clarendon St area is highly prone to flooding, mainly due to its low-lying nature. Many of the existing storm water pipes sit lower than the water level in the Yarra River.

While a meaningful funding injection of the sort of magnitude Mr Mayne noted does appear unlikely, the City of Melbourne has reiterated that addressing flooding in the area is its highest drainage priority.

In a letter addressed to local Whiteman St residents last month, it stated that the following actions had been completed or were underway:

  • Installation of a new drain;
  • Regular inspections and drain cleaning;
  • A $26,000 temporary relief drain installed to reinstate the flow path along Whiteman St;
  • $28,000 improved drainage efficiency works at the corner of Spencer St and Clarendon St; and
  • Investigating the feasibility of installing a new subterranean pump station and pressure drain in the Whiteman St Reserve.

It stated that the pump station was a “major capital works project” and was estimated to cost the city over $3 million.

The letter also noted that council was working closely with Yarra Trams to construct the new drain to ease flooding issues caused by its works to the port junction tram stop earlier this year.

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said the cost of the new drain was estimated at $1 million.

Residents and businesses continue to express their frustration with council over the issue.  

The owners of Triple S Motors, which has been operating on Whiteman St for over 20 years, said flooding had been an issue in the area for years and that whatever council was doing wasn’t working.

Having received council’s letter last month, resident Peter Gibbs described the situation as a joke.

“It’s hilarious how the council include strong winds and heavy rain for flooding,” he said. “When such climatic conditions occur I’m not seeing other suburbs flooding.”

“Whiteman St floods in zero wind conditions and 5mm of rain. Imagine what a one-in-100-year or one-in-10-year floods would look like.”

“I could start a ferry service or canoe hire business or get the community outdoors and have a floating toy duck race titled the Whiteman Cup.”

“I have to see the funny side of this because it seems the council is having a joke on us,” he said.

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