THE pressure on drains in Bendigo, causing problems at hotspots right down the course of the Bendigo Creek, has reached breaking point in the rapidly developing northern suburbs of Epsom and Huntly.
“It isn’t working,” campaigner Bob Scheuffele said this week.
“The developments are supposed to adhere to the provision that no more water will come off the estates than came off previously, so, how is all that water getting in the drain?
“Finding a solution is a work in progress but it needs to be on the agenda now.”
Mr Scheuffele, who runs Espress Printers on the Midland Highway in Epsom, and local resident Bill Knight this week took the Bendigo Weekly on a tour of Back Creek and Bendigo Creek from Epsom through to the north end of Huntly.
While construction work on one of the new estates went on behind them, they pointed out how the small retardation dams created at the edge of the estate had not been able to stop major runoff from recent rains.
Hay bales set up in the overflow channels were askew, evidence of a rush of water into Back Creek which regularly overflows and closes streets in the area.
A woman walking her dogs down Ironstone Road said residents know it’s a flood plain and used to cope with minor flooding, but too much water is now coming off the built-up areas.
“My neighbour, he’s in his 80s, and a tree has fallen into the creek at the back of his property,” the resident said.
“He can’t find anyone to take responsibility – he’s having a terrible time.”
Further down the waterway, beyond where Back Creek joins Bendigo Creek, the affect of stressed drains is stark.
Eroded banks rise high above the waterway, with pepper trees teetering precariously on the exposed edges of the chasm caused by the huge volumes of rushing water that hit the creek following any significant rain.
“Bendigo Creek is the main drain for Bendigo, and it’s been neglected,” Mr Scheuffele said.
“There used to be a dredge that kept it clear, but that finished 35 years ago.
“We need all levels of government to look at this right now, to get some plans in place because it’s only going to get worse.”
Mr Scheuffele and Mr Knight are part of a group set up to raise awareness of the drain and flood problems at Epsom and Huntly.
Chaired by City of Greater Bendigo Epsom Ward councillor Lisa Ruffell, the group attracted 120 locals to a meeting in April. They resolved to form a committee to talk to government at all levels and the North Central Catchment
Management Authority, about finding solutions and funding for a looming environmental and social disaster caused by increased flooding.
“We know this is way beyond the resources of the council,” Mr Scheuffele said.
“It’s going to require major funding.”
Their next meeting, at the Epsom Primary School at 7pm on Tuesday, August 7, is timed to follow the release of the NCCMA’s Bendigo flood plan, scheduled this month.
“What we need is someone to come up with an idea from left field to control the water,” Mr Knight said.
“There are experts who know about water in flat areas and floodplains, so we need to get advice from them.
“There are experts at everything – but there just don’t seem to be any in Bendigo.”