11 April 2017 - Media release
‘Levees are not a financially viable flood mitigation option for Emerald,’ was the decision handed down by the Central Highlands Regional Council today.
After several years of investigation, culminating in the draft Business Case Report – Emerald Flood Protection Scheme being brought before council for consideration, the mayor, Cr Kerry Hayes, pronounced the levee debate ‘finally put to rest’.
‘The answer to the question as to whether Emerald is going to have levees as flood protection is no, it’s not,’ the mayor said.
‘As Chair of the flood recovery group, I’ve toiled side by side with people in two major flood clean-ups and I know how awful it is; I know that people want us to do something; but I also know they don’t want us to do something foolish, that’s why we invested in the business case study.
‘The study took four months longer to complete than expected and is extremely comprehensive. At the end of the day, in the most simplified terms, the cost outweighs the benefit, from every angle you look at it.
‘Essentially, the cost of building, operating and maintaining levees exceeds the potential direct benefit of reduced flood damage, which is the impact on agricultural land and the general effect on people. Moreover, the indirect benefits, such as reduced insurance premiums and improved property values, while identified as marginal, are unproven.
‘We’ve got the business case; we said we’d be guided by it; and the result is that levees are not good business for this community – it’s a cost that our community cannot afford.
‘The councillors have sat around a table and determined what’s important to us for our community. Clearly, public safety came out on top—way above property protection—and we can assure the safety of our community without a levee system.
‘The announcement today won’t be the end; in fact it’s just the beginning. The levee option is finished, however a number of other flood mitigation projects, activities and advocacy will continue in the months ahead,’ the mayor explained.