Flood maps blamed for $2m work loss


COMPLAINTS about delays and cost increases may lead to a postponement of the implementation of new rules for building in flood prone areas of the Mornington Peninsula.

Councillors were told in June that new flood maps were an improvement and that 20,000 properties were no longer designated as flood-prone and more could be removed from that designation as work proceeded.

However, an “experienced builder on the southern peninsula” has now told council officers that the new flood map system “instantly stopped $2 million worth of my work, frustrated me and my customers and had a net result of costing my business approximately $100,000”.

“Great! All for no good reason. The system was not broken,” he said.

Other points made by the builder included:

  •  “I have been building on the southern peninsula for 40 years and have built several hundred houses and have not had one project flood or even look like flooding.” He had never seen a building site flood in Rye, Blairgowrie or Sorrento.
  • “I have discussed this with every other builder, draughtsman and building surveyor I know in the area and are all of the same opinion.”

He had seen the flood maps that were presented at a Nepean building permits information night. “I looked at specific areas, in particular the sand dunes at the back of Blairgowrie, which are very elevated and could not possibly flood as it is all loose sand.

“I pointed this out to [municipal building surveyor] David Kotsiakos and he answered, ‘But there is limestone under there and the water doesn’t go down and it can flood’.

“I suggest he has no understanding of what actually happens in this area and has made assumptions on data that is irrelevant.”

  • “Whatever the shire was doing prior to February this year seems to be adequate to identify the very rare problem areas that may exist. However, the shire has seen fit to adopt a response process for a so-called problem manifested by the information that has been taken as fact but is not.
  • “I suggest anyone who does not believe this should dig a hole anywhere in Blairgowrie and try and fill it up with water.”
  •  It was unbelievable, the builder said, “that we have to pay $50 to find out if we should apply to pay $250 to then receive a report. If deemed necessary this system could be, just pay the $250 and send back $200 if not required.”

The new maps were “state of the art” as a result of mapping and weather modelling. They aimed to set floor heights for new buildings, to keep them above predicted flood levels.

Cr Graham Pittock told the June meeting: “Building [work] is being severely hampered. The problem is that land is not properly designated and builders can’t be sure [of getting floor levels correct] in flood-prone areas.”

Cr Tim Wood added: “On a lighter note, if you look at that mapping of the Mornington Peninsula as being flood-prone, we’re in a worse state than the Netherlands.” Mr Kotsiakos replied: “For a different reason, yes.”

First published in the Mornington News – 15 September 2015


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