Debbie fights for levee left off flood funding list

Debbie Johnston and Greg Clancy at the levee earlier this year.

Susanna Freymark

Thirty-six projects are on the list for $150million funding from the Federal Government.

Repairing the Bungawalbin levee is not one of them.

Debbie Johnston was at the funding announcement today, Friday, July 28 where Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt announced $100million for 20 flood resilient projects. In February he announced $50million for 16 projects.

Ms Johnston expected the levee to be on today’s list.

The 7.8km long levee runs through Ms Johnston’s property and it is meant to protect the Bungawalbin catchment from flooding including protecting Swan Bay, New Italy and Woodburn.

Ms Johnston has been fighting to be heard. When she asked CSIRO research scientist Jai Vaze who was travelling with Mr Watt about it, he drew a blank.

It wasn’t on the projects list and never was.

Debbie Johnston sits on the edge of the levee. Photo: Susanna Freymark

Phillip Rudd from Rous County Council who is responsible for the levee was called – why wasn’t repair of the Bungawalbin levee on the project list to be considered for funding?

Apparently, Mr Rudd thought it was.

Somewhere along the way, the important levee infrastructure has missed out – again.

The levee was built in 1945 to protect the Lower Richmond from minor–moderate floods, Ms Johnston said.

The levee has significant erosion, some clay core is missing and numerous large trees have collapsed the levee, she said.

Ms Johnston was determined to find out why the Bungawalbin levee has been forgotten when its purpose during floods is of such vital importance.

“Council has still been unable to secure funds, however Public Works sent out engineers last week to look at the levee under their levee assessment program” she said.

“They determined a full assessment would need to be done.”

Public Works engineers inspecting the Bungawalbin levee last week.

Representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency and CSIRO went to Bungawalbin with Ms Johnston today.

“They spent a good hour at the levee,” she said.

Ms Johnston, with support from the community and SES has been fighting for 18 months to fix the levee.

“I have been unsuccessful fighting this on my own. The community needs to get behind it,” Ms Johnston said.

You can sign an online petition here to highlight the urgency of repairing the levee.

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