Finding flood funding

City of Playford councillors are calling on the state government to urgently fund the Gawler River Stormwater Management Plan and Detail Design to help future proof the Gawler River catchment area from flooding.

While COP councillor, Clint Marsh, praised the government for its funding announcement of $9 million late last year for stormwater management, he believes work on the plan needs to start sooner rather than later.

“Farmers in the Northern Adelaide Plains region continue to face challenges such as lack of water (drought), crop fires and rain events (flooding), adding large ongoing cost to their farming production,” Cr Marsh said.

“Water from the North and South Para rivers continue to be released into the Gawler River.

“With added pressure of local stormwater being released into the Gawler River.

“When such storm events like they have in the past return again, upstream water being released has an impact on the Gawler River’s capacity.

“Added pressure is the lack of upkeep to the river.”

Cr Marsh said the Gawler River Flood Management Authority (GRFMA) had performed well since the devastating floods of 2016 in coordinating multiple councils with the intent to implement a solution to address the Gawler River flooding concerns.

“It’s paramount we fund the Stormwater Management Plan and Detail Design urgently,” he reiterated.

“This funding release is vital to the area, as this river impacts (on) residential, commercial and farming (in the area).”

Fellow COP councillor Cathy-Jo Tame agreed it was time to fix the problem.

“This is something we as councillors and previous councillors before us have been fighting for, for so long,” Cr Tame said.

“It’s time to put this on the front line and fix the issue before more problems arise.”

COP deputy mayor Peter Rentoulis said he had personally witnessed the devastating impact of the Gawler River after a flood on the townships of Virginia and Buckland Park at least three times over the last 25 years.

“I can tell you that it literally destroys lives and livelihoods,” he said.

“While I welcome the state government’s $9 million contribution, this is just the start.

“Both local government and the Federal Government must now come to the table with funding of their own to fund the most crucial component of a solution to the problem; the Northern Floodway.

“This involves all three tiers of government coming together as a collective.

“The people of the lower reaches of the Gawler River have had enough and demand action now.”

The state government has allocated $9 million over three years and will deliver this through its Stormwater Management Fund.

Terms of the funding include an as yet to be determined co-contribution by local government and states any infrastructure constructed or upgraded as a result are to be owned by the GRFMA or constituent council.

The terms also outline four projects which must be undertaken, including removal of trees along the Gawler River that pose a risk of creating a blockage and causing flooding upstream or, if moved with flood waters, significantly impacting on infrastructure downstream;

construction of a drainage system for Virginia highlighting drains along Carmelo and Park Road; installation of new control structures (weirs) and flood warning infrastructure and a review of flood warning levels; and Northern Floodway early works including assessing existing levee banks and conducting a river survey and works.

“The State Government through Minister Speirs has shown true leadership in listening to the GRFMA and local councils by putting forward a contribution of $9 million to fund immediate projects for the Gawler River,” Cr Marsh said.

“We now need the Federal Government to come forward with a contribution.”

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