Unpredictable heavy rain an ‘ongoing challenge’ to ensure Bendigo is prepared in a changing climate

Residents of Victoria Lane in Eaglehawk were suddenly inundated with water in January, 2015 after debris caused a blockage in a nearby drain.
Residents of Victoria Lane in Eaglehawk were suddenly inundated with water in January, 2015 after debris caused a blockage in a nearby drain.

THE man charged with the task of keeping the flood risk in Bendigo as low as possible says it will be an “ongoing challenge” as climate change makes sudden heavy rainfall events increasingly common in summer months.

While Bendigo missed the weekend’s deluge – which left buildings inundated in Euroa and the state’s north east – the city was not so lucky in January, 2015.

Cars were severely damaged in Nolan Street and water entered houses in Eaglehawk after a nearby drain became blocked with debris when up to 100 millimetres of rain fell on parts of the city.

At the time, the City of Greater Bendigo stated there was a $48 million backlog in flood mitigation works and more than 150 projects on the waiting list.

A number of cars were flooded on Nolan Street when heavy rain hit Bendigo in January, 2015. The forecast on the weekend was for even more rain.

A number of cars were flooded on Nolan Street when heavy rain hit Bendigo in January, 2015. The forecast on the weekend was for even more rain.

City of Greater Bendigo engineering and public space manager Brett Martini said they had made inroads into those figures since, but new projects were always being added.

“The challenge is how when we complete projects, there are always new ones that residents would like us to attend do,” he said.

“We make an assessment of the frequency and likelihood of storm damage when prioritising these projects.

“The city is unfortunate in that the rain usually hits the forests first and the first flush of rain brings a lot of debris with it, which can cause blockages.”

The unpredictability of heavy rainfall events particularly in summer months can also make planning difficult, Mr Martini said.

“The changes we see with climate change means we are getting more intense rain more often, which is an ongoing challenge for urban drainage areas,” he said.

“There is always a greater demand for works than what is available for council.”

The council is currently completing a floodplain strategy for Epsom-Ascot-Huntly and is calling for the community’s feedback on a preliminary list of options for Back Creek, Bendigo Creek, Eaglehawk Creek and Racecourse Creek.

The largest listed projects, at $15 million each, include converting the Coliban Water lagoon into a retardation basin, and reinforcing the Bendigo Creek levee. Reconstruction of the Bendigo Creek levee could cost up to $30 million.

Other possible projects in the area include extending Eaglehawk Creek and harvesting Lake Weeroona stormwater.

The plans will be on display at Epsom Village Shopping Centre on December 9 and 10.