June 13, 2018 by admin
In deep water: Trevor Price is among farmers seeking compensation for flooding in February last year. He is pictured on his Ballarto Road farm the day after the floods. Picture: Rob CarewA GROUP of Koo Wee Rup farmers whose land was flooded in February last year will seek about $1 million compensation from AquaSure, the consortium building Victoria’s desalination plant.
The 12 landowners, from McDonalds Drain and Ballarto roads, lodged their claim in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last month.
They claim their farms were inundated because a 40-metre section of a levee bank was removed in April 2010 to construct the desalination pipeline and was not replaced.
In 2010, several farmers expressed concern that there would be flooding if the levee was not repaired.
The solicitor handling the case, Belinda Donaldson of Sackville Wilks, is the daughter of a couple who are among the 12 claimants.
She became involved when pipeline builders Thiess Degremont, part of the AquaSure consortium, invited landowners to fill out claim forms just a few weeks after the storm.
She said the matter had not progressed since then apart from a report commissioned by AquaSure that found the farms would have flooded in any event.
“We say it’s perfectly obvious the cause of the flooding was the failure to reinstate the portion of the bank that had been removed.
“Our clients’ properties have never been inundated to that extent. They’ve all sustained huge losses.”
Ms Donaldson said that when Koo Wee Rup was hit by a very similar storm in June, after the banks had been reinstated, the drains carried the water downstream away from the farms as they were meant to.
She said the total damages claim was estimated at $1 million but the cost to farmers continued to mount.
Several of the farmers were still battling weed and soil contamination problems, she said, with one lucerne farmer unable to replant since the flooding.
Thiess Degremont declined to comment and said the matter would be determined by VCAT.
The claim also cites Melbourne Water as a party. A Melbourne Water spokesman said it believed it had acted in accordance with the Water Act.
Melbourne Water announced last week it was about to start an $11.8 million upgrade of the Bunyip Main Drain to help protect Koo Wee Rup properties from flooding.
The works include raising and repairing the southern levee bank between 11 Mile and 13 Mile roads to reduce flooding, and reshaping the bank to prevent landslips. Sections of Main Drain Road will need to be relocated to complete the works.
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