Council makes submission to Maribyrnong flood inquiry to ensure city is “ready and resilient for future flooding events”
The City of Melbourne has made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into last October’s devastating Maribyrnong River floods, which outlines key recommendations for future flood mitigation and management.
The inquiry, an independent review run by Melbourne Water, is examining the causes and contributors to the flooding event on October 14, which caused widespread damage, with many homes and businesses inundated with water, including some properties in Kensington.
The review will focus on the catchment of the Maribyrnong River, as well as whether the controversial 2.5-metre-high Flemington Racecourse embankment flood wall that stretches two kilometres (built by the Victorian Racing Club in 2007) had contributed to the flooding.
It will also look at the role of emergency services, government policy, flood mitigation strategies, and the Victorian planning framework, with the inquiry’s review panel expected to make its findings and recommendations to the state government in September.
A total of 63 submissions from community and stakeholders have been provided to the review panel.
City of Melbourne councillors unanimously endorsed the council’s submission at their May 2 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, which Deputy Lord Mayor and planning portfolio lead Nicholas Reece said was important to further protect communities, assets, and waterways into the future.
“The 14th of October 2022 is a date that will never be forgotten here at the City of Melbourne,” he said during the meeting.
“While other municipalities were even worse affected than we were, it still had a very significant and devastating impact on our community.”
Through the submission, Cr Reece said, “We are very strongly encouraging the state government to regularly review and update the flood modelling state”.
“Secondly, I do want to call out the need for Melbourne Water to work with developers and council to deliver good design outcomes in flood affected areas.”
“Buildings need to be resilient to cope with floods but that doesn’t mean building high street walls, fortresses lifting entire buildings off the ground and building an ugly, urban environment.”
Venice is a city that floods regularly and is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We can, in Melbourne, build a city that is flood resistant and remains the same beautiful streets and beautiful buildings.
The council’s submission lists various roads in Kensington that could not drain away stormwater during the floods due to the elevated water level in the river.
This included a section of Hobsons Rd and Smithfield Rd (the latter being close to the river and Government Rd), Kensington Rd (closer to Mercantile Parade including railway underpass), a section of Childers St (adjacent to newly constructed rain garden and JJ Holland Park), and a section of Dynon Rd west of Dock Link Rd including the railway underpass.
It noted that a recently completed raised road section (bund) in Hobsons Rd close to the riverbanks had prevented flood water overtopping a section of the road.
The submission stated that the “key to making sound planning decisions in relation to all of the objectives, is the availability of accurate best practice data”.
“A key question that should be addressed by this inquiry is whether the flood data in relation to the Maribyrnong River and all other catchments in the state is up to date and whether in light of climate change there are sufficient measures in place to mitigate the impacts of flooding,” it said.
“This is a matter for the agency for all the catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water.”
The council’s environment and heritage portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert said the parliamentary inquiry was an “incredibly important matter” so that the state was prepared for future disasters.
“October 2022 was a stark reminder of what happens when one of our catchments floods quite considerably,” he said.
“It has been a great test for the infrastructure we’ve been building especially since the ‘90s and the construction of the entirety of Kensington banks but also water-sensitive urban design and direct flood mitigation infrastructure in the Maribyrnong catchment as well – it really did stand up well.”
But he added, “I’m not turning a blind eye at all to the impacts that the flood did have, especially on three businesses significantly in the West Melbourne industrial area, and of course, one residential property on Riverside Place in Kensington.”
“We need to redouble our efforts to ensure that the city is well adapted and ready and resilient for future flooding events which will come.”
Lord Mayor Sally Capp, said, “I really commend this report and the work that’s gone into it to make sure that we’re doing our best to ensure better outcomes in these extreme circumstances in the future, it’s absolutely vital.” •