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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Flemington Racecourse Floowall an example of urban climate maladaptation

Victorian Racing Club were allowed by the Bracks Labor Government to build a stone flood wall at Flemington Racecourse in 2006 over the objections of local residents and three local Councils. 

This racing track is built on the floodplain and should provide mitigation from floodwaters. 

Instead those floodwaters from the Maribynong river inundated local residential areas on Friday flooding about 245 homes, and damaging many vehicles. 

Prevention of floodwaters spreading across the Flemington racetrack likely exacerbated flood impacts on residential areas that were flooded.

Who will pay for the damage to residential property? The citizens affected, their insurance companies (if they have flood insurance) and it will contribute to all our insurance premiums.

All to prioritise the gambling industry above citizens. And the Melbourne Cup.

Details: The flood wall was built after then-Labor planning minister Mary Delahunty overturned a bid by the City of Melbourne, and Maribyrnong and Moonee Valley councils, to block it.

Maribynong Mayor Tran said: “about 80 houses in his council had been damaged by floodwaters, leaving about 400 people homeless.

“A lot of families have been forced to take the bare minimum: phones, laptops, medications. But family heirlooms, family photos, all those memories have been lost,” he said.

“A lot of families really just want to go home to get photos – not even their clothes, just photos.”

245 homes in the inner north-west suburb flooded on Friday, the SES said, far exceeding the 60 initially predicted. (The Age)

More from 2004 report: Floodwall removes 1.2 million square metres of flood plain https://www.theage.com.au/national/goings-wet-as-racing-hits-2km-stone-wall-20041031-gdywft.html

Update 2:
Would a retarding basin dam at Arundel, north of Keilor have prevented or reduced flood impact? Highly likely if its storage was managed carefully. It would provide some drinking water storage, but flood mitigation would probably be the more important function. This would have also rendered the Flemington Racecourse floodwall irrelevant, a climate maladaptation

Hydrology expert Geoff Crapper told The Sunday Age that the dam, which was proposed six kilometres upstream from Keilor at Arundel, would have likely prevented the flooding on Friday of hundreds of houses in Melbourne’s western suburbs from floodwaters.

“Not only wouldn’t have they had any houses flooded this time, the racecourse wouldn’t have needed a wall either,” Crapper said.

“It would have saved hundreds of people evacuating and billions of dollars in bills and, mostly, it wouldn’t have ruined peoples lives.” said Crapper.

See also ABC report: Minister says Arundel dam plan flawed
Sun 8 Oct 2006, which focussed entirely on Arundel Dam for increasing water supply, not mentioning importance for flood mitigation https://www.abc.net.au/news/2006-10-08/minister-says-arundel-dam-plan-flawed/1281248

Are there environmental impacts of building a retarding basin dam? My understanding is it would alter local ecosystems somewhat. It would drown existing farming land, and require compulsory aquisition of a few houses. There may be cultural and archeological implications if there were strong songlines or indigenous sites of importance associated with the land to be drowned. Fish and eel migrations would be affected. Perhaps a fish ladder could be incorporated to facilitate fish migration with a dam. 

Related story:

Good article on the flooding in Melbourne (Maribyrnong River) and regional Victoria by Andrew Charles, a former Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) climatologist and member of the Victorian Socialists.
I would add that Victoria needs a risk and vulnerability assessment and a State Adaptation Plan. We also need these at the national level. At the moment disaster response is haphazard and fractured. Not good governance for disaster risk reduction in the climateemergency.
Floods Have Hit Australia Again. Thanks to Budget Cuts, the Authorities Aren’t Prepared

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