This is a lengthy post for which we beg your indulgence. It is also the most important post we have put up, since it reveals the total lack of vision of this council as exemplified in its MSS, and the abject failure to address problems which have plagued the municipality for eons. These problems are not being addressed, remediated, nor presented in an honest and informative manner.

The fact that items 9.7 (removal of infrastructure levy) and 9.13 (flood report) both appear on the same agenda is more than simply ironic. It highlights the hidden agendas and failure to act in the best interests of the community. By removing the Infrastructure Levy which is meant to pay for drainage on new developments, council is proclaiming open slather for developers and basically ignoring the environmental impacts on drains, streets, and residents. To further compound the problem we have the 9.13 report on the February 4th floods which ultimately says nothing, proposes nothing new, and basically maintains the current status quo. Council cannot have it both ways – if flooding and inadequate drainage are real risks, then removing a vital source of income to ameliorate this risk is nothing short of madness.

Here are some of the most unbelievable statements from these two reports:

 Item 9.13 – Flood report

Council’s drains run into Melbourne Water. It follows that the effectiveness of a drainage system as a whole is the effectiveness of the local drain (Council) and the main drain (Melbourne Water).

COMMENT: Not one single word in this ‘report’ analyses the ‘effectiveness’ of council’s drains, nor provides information as to how many of its drains were involved in the February 4th flooding; when they were all last cleaned; what their condition was, etc.

“The overland flow washed soil, sand, silt and debris along its path depositing much of this material in low points. In some low points debris restricted or blocked pits and pipes so water could not drain away once the main storm surge had passed.”

COMMENT: How much of this ‘debris’ is a direct result of council’s insistence on piling mulch upon mulch in our parks and on our street trees? When were these specific pits last checked or cleaned?

“..many Council drains are laid almost flat due to the flat terrain in many parts of Glen Eira. As a consequence, leaves, soil and other debris that enter the drains tend to settle and build up in the pipes overtime. Council faces an ongoing challenge of builders washing silt and debris into Council drains. Property owners also build structures and plant trees over easement drains preventing access for maintenance and causing damage to the drains.”

COMMENT: Per usual, blame everyone else! The fact that planning law restricts building over easements is not acknowledged. Nor are any statistics provided to substantiate such claims.

“On average, Council proactively cleans about 30km of drains and 6,000 pits per annum and attends to 800 to 1,000 drainage service requests from the community. The cost of this service is about $700,000 per annum.

COMMENTS: Annual reports have shown a steady decline in ‘cleaning’ of drains.

“Council proactively attends to ‘hotspots’ and reactively to others. Hotspots are locations where flooding regularly occurs causing nuisance or damage to property. No one can guarantee that underground drains are always free of blockages. Council’s approach ensures that critical drains are generally clear of blockage prior to heavy rainfall. Council only allows for minimal maintenance of non-critical drains. A recent survey of a small proportion of the Council’s drainage network suggests that most non-critical drains are not functioning at full capacity. Council officers are currently investigating increasing Council’s drainage maintenance resources and will report on this in due course.

COMMENT: If ‘not functioning at full capacity’ then what has been done? – especially considering the Auditor General’s report of 2005 (which we’ve previously highlighted) and which placed Glen Eira near the bottom of nearly all its benchmarking performance criteria. So this is not a revelation – it has been known for years and years. Yet, nothing appears to have changed. Why? This also begs the question of how ‘non-critical drains’ are identified. Given the disasters of February 4th, how many ‘non-critical’ drains should now be included in the ‘hot-spot’ classification?

“Council contractors sweep the kerb and channel in the streets daily in shopping centres and monthly in residential streets. The primary purpose of the sweeping is to keep the streets clean but it also helps keep storm water flowing along the street and debris out of the underground drains. Council spends about $1.3 million each year sweeping its streets.”

 COMMENTS: Is ‘monthly’ sufficient, especially in Autumn and Winter when deciduous trees lose their foliage en masse. How many residents can even claim that their streets have been cleaned monthly?

“Continuing its $3 million rolling program to renew and upgrade its drains on a priority basis. Review its proactive and reactive drainage maintenance program (discussed above) to ensure that it continues to provide best value to the community.”

COMMENT: So after all this, we’re still left with the same approaches, expenditure, and vision. Nothing has changed and the potential for disaster remains ever present.

Item 9.7 Amendment C84

“It is considered that the benefit gained from a DCPO has been comparatively small compared to the cost of implementation and administration, and to annual capital expenditure for drainage.”

COMMENT: One would have thought that any money collected is better than nothing! This also ignores the vital question of how well and often this levy is being collected; is the rate high enough; why can other councils maintain this levy and Glen Eira finds it of little ‘benefit’? Does this tell us more about the pro-development stance of council, or its administrative (in)efficiency, as opposed to ensuring that the community’s interests are the first priority?

“The DCPO has been proven to be an ineffective town planning tool if one of its aims was to moderate medium density dwellings. A far more moderating influence has been (only) Glen Eira’s increased standards applying to medium density dwellings in terms of reduced site coverage, increased rear setbacks, increased private open space and discouraging double storey development at the rear of sites. Furthermore, if Council were to replace the DCPO in the future, it is unlikely that the Minister for Planning would approve fees that are significantly higher than the original fees which could meaningfully contribute to drainage infrastructure. A continuing dampening influence on any ultimate fees is Glen Eira’s reduced site coverage of 50% in Minimal Change Areas (compared to 60% under standard ResCode provisions). The starting point would need to be a revised strategic assessment which is estimated to cost upwards of $100,000, with no certainty of approval.”

 COMMENT: The primary objective of a development levy is NOT TO ‘MODERATE MEDIUM DENSITY DWELLING” – it is there to ensure that the developer pays his dues to the community via support for drainage infrastructure or money that is directed to ‘community’ infrastructure – ie kindergartens. Further, given the fortune that this council spends on concreting open space and other extravagances, then the expenditure of $100,000 is merely a drop in the ocean and far more essential than concrete plinthing in our parks and gardens.


If both of these reports are accepted by councillors then they are not only fools, but incapable of providing the vision and fiduciary oversight that they are charged with. What will they say when the next flood happens? How will they face the residents whose lives have been disrupted and their homes destroyed? When will they actually have the courage to look at the Glen Eira Planning Scheme and MSS and start to institute real reform that protects the environmental, social, and economic future of this municipality?


As an afterthought, we’ve added these passages from the 2005 Auditor General’s report on Flood Risk Mitigation and ask – what has changed in the past 6 years? How many of these points and recommendations have been implemented by this council?

“Melbourne Water and Stonnington were rated as “excellent”. Both agencies clearly defined the goals of flood risk management and linked these with other planning and budgetary documents. They had a comprehensive knowledge of the flooding risks in their areas of operation and had consulted stakeholders about the implications”.

“The 4 “developing” councils (Bayside, Boroondara, Darebin, Glen Eira) had not created a focus on flood risk management with clearly communicated goals and objectives. They need to improve their performance. All councils were developing processes for this purpose, but to do so effectively they will need to set specific flood risk management objectives, gain stakeholder support for them and ensure that the objectives link to their strategy, planning and budgetary processes”.

“Bayside and Glen Eira were rated as “developing”. Both had started a program of catchment analysis studies to enable them to better understand the local flooding risks. However, neither had yet developed their detailed knowledge of drainage problems to a point where a risk assessment approach could be applied across the whole council area”.

“As most councils have not completed detailed mapping work for their own catchments, they are relying on Melbourne Water’s information about flood-prone areas. However, as Stonnington and Casey have done their own mapping, their overlays will be more comprehensive than those of the other councils we examined.”

“Agencies need to educate stakeholders about the nature and extent of flooding  risks, and their plans for, and performance in, addressing those risks. Only then will residents understand how they might be affected and how their actions could increase the risk. Education in this area should be targeted at those most at risk of flooding and those behaviours most likely to increase flooding risks”.

“At Stonnington the mapping of local flood overlays, while expensive, has been critical in raising the council’s understanding of flooding risks and performance in this area. The overlays provided a consistent and high quality information base that significantly enhanced Stonnington’s ability to prioritise and plan for these risks. Importantly, they allowed the council to introduce uniform planning system controls across the whole municipality and not just in Melbourne Water’s area of responsibility”.

“Councils did not have effective strategies to address the existing flooding risks. The number of properties subject to flooding is unknown and needs to be established. Unless councils improve their practices, most will not be able to effectively prioritise and treat existing flooding risks. Councils also need to be more proactive in verifying the effectiveness of flooding treatments”.

“That councils develop flood risk management practices consistent with best practice risk management, and that these incorporate:

􀁸 specific flood risk management goals and objectives, which are supported by stakeholders and clearly linked to the councils’ wider strategies, plans and budgets

􀁸 a risk assessment and prioritisation process based on a sound knowledge of flood exposure

􀁸 an option assessment process with clear criteria that would include costs of treatment options, effectiveness (in mitigating flooding risks), and impacts on the conservation and environmental goals of stormwater

􀁸 a long-term flood risk management plan to achieve the objectives of these practices

􀁸 an ongoing targeted community education program to raise awareness of flooding issues, ascertain community expectations and encourage behaviour that will limit flooding risks

􀁸 performance indicators that measure the effectiveness of flood risk management treatments in lowering flooding exposure, the results of which should be regularly reported to the community.