The Buloke Shire mayor says work is progressing on flood mitigation work in Charlton following last year’s deluge, while warning the town remains unprepared for a full-scale disaster.
David Pollard said he was comfortable Charlton would cope with a repeat of last September’s storms, but the construction of a levee needed to guard against heavy rains like those seen in 2010 and 2011 was still some way off.
“There’s nothing around that’ll stop anything of that magnitude,” he said.
Read more: Charlton avoids disaster
The Lower Avoca ward councillor said while there had been “very little” work on the ground in the past 12 months, designs for the levee were progressing well, though the shire was yet to receive a firm funding commitment from the state government.
“The levee we’re looking at in Charlton is in the vicinity of eight to 10 million, so it’s a huge construction cost,” he said.
“The government is happy with the design going ahead, they are comfortable with the fact that Buloke Shire cannot afford a third of the cost to put in a levee.”
Funding aside, Mr Pollard said the focus was currently on the planning stage, saying the council and the community had to be “100 per cent happy with the design”.
“We’ve got to get the design right, we can’t afford to build something that’s not going to do the job and the community’s not happy with,” he said.
“It’s very annoying that things take so long but we’ve got to get it right, we only get one opportunity and it’s got to be right.”
Mr Pollard said the design had already changed after taking on board community feedback, with the final plan to be completed before discussions on funding would begin.
“There’s been a few changes to the design of how it looks, especially through the middle of town and we’re in the stage now of just reviewing the design to make sure those changes have been incorporated,” he said.
“The next stage is, once we’re happy with the design, then we’ve got to start looking at funding to try and get it built, if that’s what the community are looking for.”
In the meantime, Mr Pollard said the same measures that helped Charlton avoid the worst last time around would serve the town in good stead if a similar rainfall event occurred again.
“There’s enough knowledge in place to be comfortable with something like last year,” he said.
“At this stage we’ll be digging out the back St Arnaud Road if a flood happens again.”
A government spokesman said the Premier had visited north-central Victoria on a number of occasions and the government would continue to work with locals to ensure they had the support they needed.