A plan to greatly reduce the risk of severe flooding in Busselton was given the go-ahead today (December 4) by Water Resources Minister Dr Kim Hames.
Dr Hames said flood protection compensating basins would be constructed over two years at a cost of about $10 million to retard floodwaters in the upper Vasse and Sabina catchments.
“The State Government is committed to fully fund this project which is expected to reduce the risk of a severe flood in Busselton to one per cent in any year,” the Minister said.
“This would be what is called a one-in-100-years event, compared with the present risk level of one-in-20-years, or about five per cent.”
Dr Hames was speaking at a function at the Vasse Research Station, the site of the first basin due to be completed during the coming summer.
He said an innovative plan had been proposed by the Water and Rivers Commission following the flooding and near failure of the Vasse River Diversion in 1997.
“The preferred flood management option is to construct detention basins in the catchments of the Vasse and Sabine Rivers. However, the location of detention basins will depend on farmers’ willingness to provide land for this purpose,” the Minister said.
“The basin plan avoids the need to increase the size of existing drains, which would be costly and disruptive, and would detract from Busselton’s attractive landscape.
“Three landowners, in addition to Agriculture Western Australia, have so far agreed to enter into negotiations over the construction of basins on their properties.
A steering committee chaired by the Office of Water Regulation had been formed to consult with the community and provide advice on the preferred flood mitigation option.
“The Water Corporation has prepared preliminary designs for the basins which will fit the contour of the land where they are constructed,” Dr Hames said.
“A newly appointed project team has commenced environmental studies, land negotiations and detailed design for the initial series of compensating basins.
“Letters have been sent to all landowners in the Vasse River Diversion Drain catchment explaining the scheme, inviting comment or objections, and inviting them to express an interest in entering into negotiations.”
Dr Hames said he understood the concerns of some landowners about the construction of basins on their properties. However, he clearly stated that there was no intention to force any farmer to participate in the project.
“No-one will be forced to have a basin built on their land, no-one will be forced to sell any portion of their land for a basin site and all negotiations will be on a commercial basis,” he said.
However, the Minister said the project would only work with the co-operation of landowners, and he urged them to seriously consider its benefits.
Dr Hames acknowledged the contribution of the Shire of Busselton in the planning for flood protection and its contribution of $20,000 towards the cost of contour mapping work.
Federal funding, through the Regional Flood Mitigation Program, contributed $33,000 for the preliminary design of the basins.
“The Local Member, Bernie Masters, has strongly lobbied the Government to ensure there is funding and that the project goes ahead for the future benefit of the Busselton community,” Dr Hames said.
Media contact: Sandy Gater, Minister’s office 9424 7450