Staff bypass gives residents flood wall

The 2010 flood was meant to be a once-in-a-century storm, but those are becoming more common as the climate changes.

A LONG-AWAITED wall will now be built at Beatty Park Reserve to prevent flooding of nearby homes, following a years-long campaign by residents.

Homes just north of the reserve were flooded in the bad storm of 2010 when drains couldn’t cope, and water’s threatened properties in some of the rainier years since (Voice, April 2, 2022).  

In 2017 Vincent council commissioned an expert report costing $25,000 on how to prevent future flooding. The report recommended extending a retaining wall and fence, which would slow water to give the drains time to cope and also keep leaves and other debris from blocking the grating. 

The council budgeted cash for the wall, but instead ended up spending $260,000 on other mitigations like upgrading the pipe network. 

The wall dropped off the agenda at some unknown point and now Vincent staff advised it wasn’t needed anymore since homes didn’t flood during the heavy rains of 2021.

Homeowner Steve Burke told this week’s council meeting the only reason houses didn’t flood is because he and other residents spent many hours clearing out the drains, and even installed $750 worth of sandbags between the park and homes to slow the flow last year.

Councillor Ron Alexander moved a motion to overturn the staff recommendation and instead build the wall recommended by the 2017 expert report.

“We’ve all probably seen that video of, basically, a river coming off Beatty Park… it certainly shouldn’t be inundating local residents’ properties,” Cr Alexander said.

He held up last week’s Perth Voice, citing “residents spending $750 to sandbag their own properties, which I suspect would have been inundated if they hadn’t done that”.

Cr Alexander, who’s new to council since his October 2021 election, said “this is a project that’s been delayed and delayed and delayed, and I think it’s now time for some action”.

Fellow newcomer to council Cr Suzanne Worner agreed: 

“The current situation at Beatty Park has been festering for over a decade with promises made, undertakings given, some work progressing, and nothing yet really resolved.

“And yet it’s quite clear via the witness reports, photographs and videos that properties at the rear of Emerson Street have experienced flooding issues and risks still remain.”

Councillors unanimously supported the motion to go ahead and build the wall without further delays or extra reports, and it’s now due to be raised in time for winter.

Mayor Emma Cole flagged a need for a future city-wide survey to look at how their drains will cope with increasingly frequent big storm events.

It’s a concern shared by neighbouring Nedlands council, which recently did a study modelling flood risks and found it needed to spend about $2.45m upgrading 40 drains in at-risk streets.

“I think we really need to look at our drainage system and network in the context of climate adaptation mitigation,” Ms Cole said.

“We have a series of wetlands and high water tables in certain areas around our wetlands, and we did have significant flooding in Mount Hawthorn linked to Lake Monger; we have significant flooding near the Leederville tennis club. This is something that we do need to consider and get on top of.”

by DAVID BELL

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