At last funding announced… $3.46 milllion for Dimboola and Jeparit weirs
“THRILLED to the back teeth” is how Hindmarsh Shire Council CEO Dean Miller described his feeling of elation after the Victorian State Government announced this week that it will fully fund rebuilding of the Dimboola weir, and repair the Jeparit weir, badly damaged by record floods in January 2011.
State Treasurer, Kim Wells announcing the funding said the grant of $3,46M would repair the weir walls and revitalise the areas for community use.
“The floods in the Wimmera River caused substantial damage to the weir structures, including the walkways, handrails and gates, as well as eroding the river banks where the flood waters overflowed,” Mr Wells said.
“At Dimboola, a more resilient structure will be built that can withstand large floods that may occur in the future.”
Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty said the Dimboola weir, which was constructed last century, had traditionally provided water to the Dimboola township.
“The weir pool is now a hub of activity with families and tourists using it for recreational activities,” Mr Delahunty said.
“By undertaking these important repairs, we are making sure the weir pool can continue to host events such as the annual rowing regatta, held in November.”
Mr Miller said, “it has been a marathon effort to get to this point as there have been numerous and complicated issues with insurance over the last 18 months. The main impediment to progress of the repairs has been ownership issues, the weir being owned by GWMW and the abutments being on Council land.”
“The federal government would fund repairs to Council assets but not GWMW property and then the insurers would not come to the party over the repairs due to definitions of whether the structures were a dam or a weir,” he said.
“We lobbied everyone, and every organisation possible, and had strong support from both our federal member John Forrest and Hugh Delahunty at state level. At the end of the day the State Government has come to the party and we are most thankful to them and to see the issue finally resolved,” Mr Miller said.
Dimboola Town Committee president, Phil Colquhoun said yesterday, “We are truly delighted with the announcement, it’s been far too long coming, but it is great news.”
“The new spillway, we hope (if it is set at the right level), will help alleviate future potential blockages and that the walkway will be designed in such a way that it can be quickly removed to prevent the log jam that initially caused all this damage and raised the water level to the height it did unnecessarily, leading to much damage,” Mr Colquhoun said.
It is anticipated that the repair works will commence in April this year, when the river level is expected to be at its lowest. There are currently two schools of thought as to how the Dimboola weir project will be undertaken, one is to build a “coffer” wall (from clay) in front of the worksite, the other to release water from the weir pool and have a dry area, while work progresses, and the pool be refilled from an environmental flow.
“We will need to have a commitment from the authority that the many hundreds of megalitres of water would be guaranteed to be available to refill the lake however, before we went down that path.”
“The other issue that needs to be considered is to be prepared for flood mitigation in case of flooding while the work progresses. We would only have five days (notice) to enable floodwaters to be released through the site, so that is also an important consideration in how the project would be undertaken,” Mr Miller said.
Work on the new/refurbished weir will involve strengthening the abutment (that was badly eroded during the flood) with ‘sheet piling’ filled with concrete on the west embankment, repair of the flume gates, the installation of new handrails and a walkway fitted with a transport system for the removal of the gates. A new five to ten metre spillway is also to be installed over the west abutment and a new solar powered operating system is also to be fitted.
The Coalition Government has funded the repairs under Victoria’s Natural Disaster Financial Assistance scheme.
“The scheme allows local councils to seek reimbursement for eligible expenditure incurred from the repair and restoration of essential public assets,” Mr Wells said.