Community & Business

2 May, 2024

Plea for action on gully flooding

FRUSTRATED residents who are sick and tired of their Atherton properties being inundated by stormwater every time there’s a decent downpour are pleading with Tablelands Regional Council to do something about it.

Photos shown to the council last week that clearly depict the flooding issues in Evans and Lloyd Streets.
Photos shown to the council last week that clearly depict the flooding issues in Evans and Lloyd Streets.

Two women, both residents of Evans Street, say they are fed up with promises that works will be done to mitigate flooding in Peakes Gully and appealed to the new council to tackle the long-standing issue.

Long-time resident Michelle Saunders said she had been hearing promises to improve drainage in the gully for 20 years and instead of things getting better, they had worsened due to developments being approved upstream which push even more water into the gully, flooding homes, sheds, roads and properties with as little as 60mm of rain.

“Six previous Atherton Shire and Tablelands Regional Councils under five different Mayors have done very little to fix the real causes of the flooding issues – only bandaid solutions,” she told the council last week.

“We have 24 years’ worth of correspondence showing the council has been aware of this matter. Council also continually approves upstream developments without fixing their failed system.

“Yes, this is a long-standing problem. Yes, it will cost money. Yes, it is a big job and it won’t get smaller or cheaper. Nor will it ‘disappear’ with time.”

Neighbour Mary Neace said she wanted to know why funds for Peakes Gully drainage improvements were constantly deferred, pointing out that $1.65 million had been budgeted for the works in the 2023-24 budget but now there was no allocated funds until 2027-28.

“Why does this work continue to be delayed when it will cost more?” she asked.

“Why is there $8.5 million for the Priors Creek development but nothing for Peakes Gully? 

“We ask you to firmly commit to putting into this next budget the necessary funds – our taxpayer dollars – to properly commence with remediation of Peakes Gully rather than directing funds towards secondary beautification schemes like Priors Creek, a purported tourist attraction.”

egn_peakes-gully-flood2.jpg egn_peakes-gully-flood3.jpg

The pair outlined the issues to council, citing reports and studies that had been done over the years which had identified there were “grossly deficient stormwater infrastructure in the catchment, and the lack of a secondary flow path”, but instead of council acting on the recommendations, they had only undertaken small works that had not resolved the problem.

At the same time, council had approved the Mulungu health clinic project despite warnings that it would exacerbate the flooding issues affecting their properties – something that is now their reality.

“The problem of potential flooding is quite clear (in photos presented to council) and now the two new approved ‘uphill’ developments, Clear Mountain Estate and Sunshine Gardens, will surely exacerbate the flooding,” Ms Reace said.

“Are the developer fees/headworks charges going to be allocated to improving the infrastructure as related to drainage/flooding and a ‘no worsening effect’?

“We were assured of this with the Mulungu project, yet that has not been the case even in light rains, let alone what we’ve experienced in the last few years.”

The women outlined what the current issues were and what they believe must be done to mitigate the flooding in Evans and Lloyd Street in particular.

“There’s not enough drainage on Robert Street, which would help to eliminate water coming down Lloyd St which has too high a profile/upward slope and rainwater cannot reach the exiting drains,” Ms Reace said.

“Existing drains in Peakes Gully need to be maintained and kept clear more efficiently.  Residents are at times clearing these drains themselves to keep their properties from flooding. 

“Peakes Gully underground drainage pipes need reviewing and/or replacement.  Only two of the existing six pipes are draining water at the dumpsite on McConaghie Street. 

“Central Tyres’ new driveway potentially compounds the problem with only small drainage pipes underneath, creating a backup of water. 

“Drains are needed on Evans Street to collect and disperse water underground from the Mulungu property outlet on Evans.  Their ability to release water on Evans should never have been allowed.”

The women met with Infrastructure Services general manager Mark Vis and former councillors earlier this year and were told it would cost the council $7.3 million to fix the issues but no funds are allocated to the works until the 2027-28 year through to 2032-33.

During that meeting, Ms Saunders says she asked whether she should approach Member for Hill Shane Knuth regarding the possibility of getting government funding to do the works, and was advised to do so.

Mr Knuth told her there was funding available for such projects and that council had not applied for that funding. He advised that any application would have to come from the council.

Ms Saunders has also asked council for a copy of a confidential report, the Peakes Gully Stormwater Drainage Study, but has yet to receive any documentation.

After the presentation, Mayor Rod Marti said the women had “got our attention” but advised any works to remedy the situation would have to be staged over years.

“That’s what we’ve been hearing for 24 years” Ms Saunders replied.

Earlier in the meeting, Ms Reace made it clear what residents wanted.

“We are asking you to please act on a problem that has long been neglected, overlooked or ignored.  This is no longer an inherited problem,” she said.

“You all have a duty of care for a situation that affects businesses and residences of our town.”


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