By Jackson Russell
Community feedback is being sought by Mitchell Shire Council on plans for a proposed levee around Seymour to protect the town from a 1-in-100 year flood event from the Goulburn River.
The levee would provide protection to over 300 residential and commercial properties against a large-scale flood event from the Goulburn River, including essential services such as the hospital and police station.
A flood levee will also provide protection to properties north of the railway line from flooding caused by the Whiteheads Creek.
Council’s planning and investigative works estimate the levee would cost around $20 million.
Council has already secured $6 million of government funding and continues to advocate to close the shortfall in funding.
The levee would be built on the western side of the railway line, cross Emily Street twice near the western and northern entrances to Seymour, follow the Goulburn River and cross High Street south of Whiteheads Creek.
New shared use paths and other recreational facilities along the crest of the levee could also be included in the works.
Due to the the current funding gap and on-going advocacy for project funding, council is looking to determine whether the project should progress or not.
In order to make an informed decision, council is hoping to gain an understanding of the level of support for a flood levee for Seymour.
While the survey is not binding, feedback received will help inform council’s decision whether to progress the levee or not.
A council spokesperson said if the levee project were to proceed and be completed, council would pursue amending existing restrictive flood planning overlays throughout the proposed protected area, seeking to remove and replace them with different development controls that encourage future development and investment within Seymour.
“The construction of a flood levee could also provide opportunities to re-zone other land that is currently unable to be developed due to restrictive development controls,” the spokesperson said.
There has been some conjecture around Seymour as to whether or not the levee should go ahead.
Sartori’s Panel Works owner Fred Sartori is one of numerous business owners in favour of building the levee, not just for flood protection but also to encourage further development in Seymour.
Mr Sartori said building the levee would allow small businesses to prosper.
“It would open up development for the town cost-wise,” he said.
“For it to go ahead and open up the town, I think it’s very important. It’ll open up land everywhere to be able to move forward and allow the town to blossom.”
BEAM Mitchell Environmental Group committee member Peter Mitchell said the group is opposed to the levee for multiple reasons, including the removal of red gum trees from the levee’s proposed path.
“The levee pens the river in which means the forces of floods are going to be greater,” he said.
“We’ve gone through a Seymour Structure Plan and there are a lot of ideas that Seymour needs to turn around, look at the river and use it as an asset for recreation, tourism and all sorts of things.
“People should be aware of the risks when they build and people should have a clear idea of what a flood means for them if they live in a flood zone.”
Council is also keen to understand if landowners who will directly benefit from the construction of a levee are willing to help contribute to costs through a special charge scheme, if no further funds can be contributed by other levels of government.
“Feedback received during consultation will be independently assessed and a comprehensive report will be provided to council that details the community’s feedback on the proposed levee and landowner’s views on paying for a levee,” the council spokesperson said.
“This report will be made available to the community and council will use these findings when deciding on the next stages of the levee proposal.
“Council welcomes the opportunity to involve the Seymour community in this important decision-making process.”
Community members can provide their feedback online at engagingmitchellshire.com/seymour-flood-levee-2019 or by attending a drop-in session to learn more about the levee and speak to the project team.
The first session will be held on Saturday, October 5 at the Seymour Show at Kings Park, followed by sessions at Chittick Park Community Place on Thursday, October 10 from 2-4pm and Tuesday, October 15 from 5-7pm.
Directly affected landholders will receive a letter that will further explain input during the consultation period.
Consultation closes on Friday, 25 October at 5pm.