Flood mitigation dominated the discussion in the chambers at this week’s council meeting.
In its first opportunity to publicly debate and decide on the best way forward for future flood protection, Central Highland’s Mayor Councillor Kerry Hayes said the new council was united in its desire to provide clear, confident direction and certainty to the community.
‘It was a clear message from the community to all of us throughout our election campaigning that the time is nigh to make some decisions and get on with some projects.
‘Firstly, we have concluded that the levee option is unaffordable for the council at this time.
‘However, we will complete the business case into this option by November 2016 so we have a ‘proof of concept’ document. This was the solution the community preferred from the outset and council has spent $3 million of its own funds on its meticulous investigation, so it makes sense to retain the full value of the study. We will then be confident we have a definitive, well-informed picture of the cost, risk and benefit of a levee option to consider, if necessary, in the future.
‘While that project is occurring we will immediately pursue the other major causes of upstream afflux, being the central railway line and the Vince Lester Bridge, by reigniting the discussion with the Queensland Government as a matter of urgency.
‘The council is also determined to push ahead with the other mitigation projects that are within its capabilities and budget, such as extending and expanding the clearing and excavation of the Nogoa River.
‘While these three items focus on future management, it’s opportune to clarify what’s happening at present,’ the mayor added.
‘Work on raising New Street to provide a north-south evacuation route will commence next month, the preliminary services relocation has already been completed, and the Nogoa River improvement project is also scheduled to start in June.
‘What the community should take from this meeting is that the council is not relying on, or committed to levees, but will actively pursue a multi-faceted approach to flood mitigation in Emerald to protect people and property.’