Farmers fuming at levee plan

Greg Nicholls in front of his property near Great Marlow which he fears may go further underwater in floods due to proposed levee changes.
Greg Nicholls in front of his property near Great Marlow which he fears may go further underwater in floods due to proposed levee changes. Adam Hourigan

FARMERS downstream of the Grafton levee system are cursing rather than praising the news some of the system is about to be raised.

The Environmental Impact Study into the second Grafton Bridge, released last month, said levees upstream of the bridge needed an extra 20cm to cope with the effects of the bridge on river flow.

For a farmer like Great Marlow's Greg Nicholls this is not good news.

"Before there were any levees, my house was above the flood height, but ever since they started building levees in the 1970s, flood waters have started to encroach on his property.

Mr Nicholls said the floor height of his house is 5.54m and there is a 1.7m difference between the water height at his property and the flood level at the Prince St marker.

"You do the figures. Take 1.7m from 8.03 and you get 6.3m," Mr Nicholls said.

"Subtract the floor height from that and that's how much water went through our place.

"We used to get floods around the 6m mark, so we had water under the house, but that was not a problem."

It was a similar story for Bill Holroyd, who has a sgtorage shed in Butters Lane in South Grafton, on the bank of Alipou Creek, next door to his mother, Benita Holroyd's home.

"We're right under the works where they're going to have the southern approaches to the bridge, so we're going to get even more water through the place."

Mr Nicholls and Mr Holroyd know there is not much they can do about it, as special legislation covers flood mitigation works.

"It's Section 733," Mr Nicholls said.

"It's been tested in the High Court and councils won." Section 733 of the Local Government Act, 1993, provides that councils do not incur any liability for advice furnished or anything done or omitted to be done in good faith by council which relates to the nature and extent of flooding, provided that council acts in good faith.

Topics:  clarence river clarence valley council farmers levees

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