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Flood mitigation infrastructure inquiry

The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee has conducted an Inquiry into flood mitigation infrastructure in Victoria. We sent a submission to the inquiry along with 30 Victorian councils.

The inquiry outlines 40 recommendations that the committee believes, if implemented, will substantially improve the mitigation of floods in Victoria, and in particular, the way levees and waterways are managed in the future.

We have developed a members’ brief in consultation with councils. This brief summarises the inquiry and outlines our responses to the recommendations.

Key points in our brief include:

  • that flood mitigation infrastructure is only one of a range of options available to manage the economic, social and environmental effects of flooding. Decisions regarding flood management actions should consider all available options, including mitigation infrastructure, to determine the most effective and efficient solution for the broader catchment area
  • we are concerned that the beneficiary pays principle may be narrowly defined and applied in a manner that imposes a significant and inequitable financial strain on councils and ratepayers
  • discussion relating to drainage should not be separate from considerations of other flood mitigation infrastructure. Consideration of specific flood mitigation infrastructure should consider all available options and combinations including urban and rural drainage and coastal inundation
  • Catchment Management Authorities need to be confirmed as the responsible authority for the management and maintenance of waterways, and be empowered and obligated to appropriately balance environmental and flood management objectives
  • we strongly support enacting legislation to provide protection from legal liability for public authorities conducting works on priority levees

The Victorian Government has until 1 March 2013 to respond to this report. In the interim we will be working with the Department of Sustainability and Environment regarding recommendations from both this report and the 2011 Victorian Flood Review.

Review of flood warnings & response

We lodged a submission to the Victorian review of 2010 – 2011 flood warnings and response (Victorian floods review) which was released on 1 December 2011.

In line with the terms of reference of the review, our submission focused on the adequacy of funding provided by the state and federal governments, and the adequacy of service delivery by all tiers of government.

While preparing the submission, our emergency management team visited a number of flood-affected municipalities and sought input from all councils regarding the local impact of the floods.

2010 – 2011 Victorian floods

We assisted municipalities with many response, relief and recovery activities during and after the 2010 – 2011 Victorian floods. These included:

  • representing councils on the State Emergency Management Team and recovery committees, Victorian Flood Warning Consultative Committee and State Flood Policy Committee
  • supporting councils by facilitating resource sharing
  • activating our Emergency Recovery Fund to coordinate donations from non-flood-affected municipalities.

Following feedback from flood-affected municipalities, we continue to advocate for reform of the Victorian Government’s Natural Disaster Financial Assistance for Local Councils guidelines.

We requested that the scope and list of eligible costs be broadened to reflect the range and cost of current emergency management expectations placed on the local government sector.