WHEN the skies close over and turn grey, Portsea resident Brian Douglas nervously looks upwards and begins to prepare for what’s to come.
A soak pit on Mornington Peninsula Shire Council land behind his Franklin Road property has been defective for years, resulting in the flooding of his yard, even in moderate rain.
“It has been an ongoing saga that we have tried to resolve through the shire’s systems, but we have quite literally got nowhere,” Douglas said.
He first contacted the shire about the flooding pit four years ago but heard nothing back. He persevered, and about 18 months ago he finally received a visit from a shire officer.
“It looked very promising. The gentleman acknowledged it was a shire problem to fix, told us it would be attended to, and even gave us a case number.”
But that was the last Douglas would hear. After waiting one year he contacted the shire again, case number in hand, only to be told the case had been closed.
He was met with a sympathetic ear, a new case number and promises of action. After waiting another six months he called The News.
“I believe I have been incredibly patient,” Douglas said. “The constant flooding of our property is a major issue to us but appears to be a minor concern to the shire.”
After being contacted by The News the shire provided the following response attributed to the mayor, Cr Simon Brooks: “The shire is currently working through 27 serious drainage issues across the peninsula, with many of these costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix. As well as cost, contractor availability is an ongoing challenge that hampers our ability to respond to these issues as quickly as we would like. The reality is we can’t get to every issue all at once.
“Mr Douglas’s property is in an area known to be prone to flooding. The original soak pit was built in 1961 and we are aware the infrastructure is approaching the end of its practical life. Shire officers have again inspected the site and ordered a full clean of the pit, including silt removal, to ensure it is fully functional.
“We hope to be able to do the work next year, but we have to balance that against other priorities, especially cases where flood water is entering people’s homes.”
While no water has entered Douglas’s house, he has required SES assistance in the past to stop water entering the front and back doors.
Asked what systems are in place at the shire to ensure ratepayers like Douglas do not “slip between the cracks” and “suffer in silence” with unattended issues, the following comments were also attributed to the mayor: “The shire’s customer experience team is reviewing all of its systems, processes, and procedures to identify areas for improvement. Part of this involves looking at how we can ensure residents are kept fully informed about the progress of their concerns.”
The responses have left Douglas feeling far from fully informed and uncertain as to how long he will have to endure flooding from defective council infrastructure, while sitting somewhere on a list of priorities.