Commentary and photos on yesterday’s flooding is receiving huge coverage in both the dailies and on social media. Not for the first time have large areas in Ormond, McKinnon, Bentleigh and Caulfield found themselves under water. Our concern is whether council has learnt its lessons from 2011 which was also supposed to be a 1 in a 100 years event.

Here is some food for thought –

  • Development upon development must be impacting on the capacity of the drainage system – especially when the amount of impermeable surfacing, the increase in crossovers, and the removal of vegetation means that water now runs off into the drains instead of being absorbed into the ground.
  • Council’s budget on drainage has remained the same for years on end (ie $3m). Thus, given rising costs, this equates to a reduction in real expenditure.
  • It is amazing that both Bayside and Port Phillip have been able to introduce an amendment based on work with Melbourne Water that provides up-to-date analysis of potential areas under threat of flooding and imposes an SBO on these areas. Glen Eira in contrast keeps telling its residents that Melbourne Water has put any such work on hold. We find this incredible and unbelievable since the Elster Creek flows from Glen Eira directly into Port Phillip and the Elwood Canal. Why these councils have been able to successfully work with Melbourne Water and Glen Eira hasn’t (or won’t) is the real question here.
  • These other councils have also introduced amendments that INCREASE the developer levy designed to pay for infrastructure. Glen Eira REMOVED ITS LEVY in June 2011 – thus presenting the developer with another ‘present’ and forcing residents to subsidise new developments. Please see our previous post on this –

If we are correct, and greater permeability and less site coverage is a contributing factor in reducing flood risks, then Glen Eira has not learnt a thing. We remind readers that:

  • The carving up of the municipality into ‘minimal change’ and ‘housing diversity’ occurred in 2004. At this time minimal change areas were to have a 50% site coverage and 25% permeable surfaces. Housing diversity on the other hand was to have 60% site coverage and 20% permeability requirements. The introduction of the new zones could have made huge improvements here. They did not – in contrast to the following councils –
  • Banyule for its General Residential Zone 2 has a site coverage of 40% (Glen Eira – 60%)
  • Bayside for its Mixed Use zone has a site coverage – 50% (Glen Eira – 60%) and for its General Residential Zone a site coverage of 50% (Glen Eira 60%)
  • Brimbank for its Neighbourhood Residential Zone has a PERMEABILITY requirements of 30% & SITE COVERAGE  of 50% (Glen Eira has permeability requirement of 25%)
  • Darebin for its General Residential Zone has a site coverage of 50% (Glen Eira 60%)
  • Whitehorse – for its General Residential Zone has a site coverage – 50% and permeability of 30%. Its General Residential zone (GRZ2) has a 40% site coverage and 40% permeability requirement, whilst its & GRZ3 has a 50% site coverage and 30% permeability Finally, in Whitehorse, residents living in the Neighbourhood Residential zones have a site coverage of 40% AND a permeability requirements of 40%. In NRZ5 the permeability schedule is 30%. Once again, the real question is – why these other councils have been able to achieve so much more protection for residents and Glen Eira has done nothing since 2004 when the opportunity was there via the introduction of the zones?

Finally, we highlight Hyams comment made on the Glen Eira Residents’ Action Group Facebook page. Another exercise in spin and half-truths!

The flooding issues were in many places across Melbourne today, but we should still be trying to resolve them in our area. We spend around $3 million a year on improving our drainage. However, the main issue is that the Melbourne Water pipes lack the necessary capacity to carry all the water when there is heavy rain like today. The water from our council pipes hits the overflow in the Melbourne Water pipes and backs up so no more can get into our drains. In the floods in February 2011, the back up had so much force that concrete drain lids were lifted off. We have been strongly advocating to Melbourne Water since then for them to increase drainage capacity, and will continue to do so. It would therefore be useful, as Joel said, if you could forward to us any photos or footage you have of flooding in your street, and please also state the name of the street. As far as planning and development goes, if we were to simply refuse every application due to lack of infrastructure, VCAT would just overturn our decisions, and we would probably hear from the government. When the planning zones were implemented in 2013, we varied the ResCode requirements so that, in the Neighbourhood Residential Zones that cover nearly 80% of Glen Eira, the maximum site coverage was reduced from 60% to 50%, and the required permeable surface was increased from 20% to 25%. In the General Residential Zones and Residential Growth Zones, it remained at ResCode standards. As part of our Planning Scheme Review, we are looking at a levy so that developers contribute to the cost of infrastructure, and I’d also like to have another look at site coverage and permeability, so again, it would be useful to have evidence and details of flooding.