Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson says work on the levee is happening ?all the time?.
Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson says work on the levee is happening ?all the time?.

ENGINEER URGES REPAIR TO LEVEE

By EMMA CORNFORD and DAVID BANCROFT

MORE concerns about the Clarence Valley levee wall have been raised, but the Clarence Valley Council said it is not an issue people should be worried about.

In yesterday's Daily Examiner, two former council engineers said that a report released by the Clarence Valley Council revealed that Grafton may only be protected from a one-in-20 year flood ?not a one-in-100 year flood as previously thought.

Another former engineer, Ori Pastega, was with the ex-Clarence County Council Flood Mitigation Authority for 22 years. He was one of the engineers there when the levee was constructed in the 1970s.

Mr Pastega said, at the time, the height of the wall was calculated by taking measurements of the 1967 flood. He said he was keen to see the levee built up to its original height if indeed it had dropped.

"My personal opinion is that if there are places that the levee has sunk in Grafton ... with soil settling and things like that, it should be topped up and restored to its design level," Mr Pastega said.

He said before he left the council in 1984, measurements were taken from the levee bank at Maclean.

"It had fallen by no less than six inches (15 centimetres) ... in less than 10 years. It's logic to top it up."

John Furlonger, a former State Emergency Services Clarence Division controller, said he was very surprised to learn the levee would provide only one-in-20 year protection.

Mr Furlonger has experienced many floods in his time, and said many people had become complacent and used every available space on their properties for downstairs bedrooms or for living rooms.

"I would expect that it (flood water) got to about 12 foot deep (3.65 metres) at the clocktower. Boats used to tie up to the top floor at Weileys Hotel," he said.

According to Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson, regular inspections of the levee wall do take place.

"There are regular reviews of the protection offered by the flood mitigation projects such as the levee wall," he said.

"In the case of the levee wall .. there are scientific reviews which study the standard (of the wall) ... and if there are problems found with the flood mitigation potential of the levee wall they are addressed."

Mr McPherson said work on the levee was happening 'all the time'.

"For instance, there is a couple of million dollars going into work on the levee at Ulmarra. That sort of stuff is happening all the time," he said.

"Certainly it concerns council, the same as any other piece of infrastructure we've got. But it's not something that we think people should be worried about."



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