A LONG-AWAITED study into the 2010-2011 Skipton floods has promised to raise the alarm for residents to avoid a repeat of the disaster that inundated the township.
The 12-month examination of the devastating flood, carried out by the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (CMA), says early warnings need to be put in place after discussions with the SES and the Corangamite Shire.
Planning around the township and the river will also need to change in light of the unpredictable river levels, which sandbags failed to fortify against in January 2011.
Two years ago few could have foreseen homes and businesses underwater leaving a damages bill that totalled $5 million for the council.
CMA waterway program manager Brad Henderson said while many had prepared bushfire plans, few had any measures in place for floodwaters.
“The study looked at ways we can reduce the risk of flooding into the future. We looked at levies, we looked at piping, we looked at river works but none of those options proved to reduce the flooding risk in a significant way,” Mr Henderson said.
A map of the most at-risk areas and the knowledge of what will happen will now be forwarded on to the Bureau of Meteorology, which can issue alerts for emergency services
“They had just come out of 10 years of drought. Flooding really hasn’t been on the radar for Skipton Creek and Mount Emu Creek because it happens so infrequently but when it does happen, it happens in a big way,” Mr Henderson said.
Volunteers will also be enlisted further up stream to keep an eye on river levels.
“This study gives us the stats on the travel time of how long it takes for the flood to move down the river,” Mr Henderson said. “We’re looking at this flood warning because with a reasonable leave time and notification that a flood is on the way people can react with more time.”
A similar study is also being carried out around the Glenelg River in Casterton.
Corangamite mayor Chris O’Connor said there was no “silver bullet” to the problem but added many in the community hoped an early warning system would come out of the study.
“We’re very much in favour of an early warning system, that’s what people have been asking for,” Cr O’Connor said.