Council tackles city flood risk

The City of Melbourne is about to spend $20 million on a series of environmental initiatives, which will mitigate flood risk in the Elizabeth St catchment.

Endorsing the Elizabeth Street Catchment Integrated Water Cycle Management Plan at last month’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting, Cr Cathy Oke said the council’s work was leading the world.

She said she had been invited to lead three sessions at an upcoming international conference to explain the concepts involved.

“We’ve been asked to present in three sessions because we are doing more with integrated water management than any other city in the world,” Cr Oke said.

Council’s environment chair, Cr Arron Wood, said: “The plan identifies about $20 million of council investment, so it’s not a small sum we’re talking about, and also about $13 million of works on private land.  So it’s really going to be a collaborative effort to implement this plan.”

“These are not small numbers, but when you throw in all the other co-benefits – the open space, the drought-proofing of our parks and gardens – you see that green infrastructure stacks up really well.”

The key objectives of the plan include reducing flood risk rating in the Elizabeth St catchment from extreme to high, improving management of water use, reducing storm water runoff, increasing open space, soil permeability and moisture, increasing canopy cover and improving vegetation health through availability of alternative water sources.

Cr Wood said: “While bringing the flood level down to high, there is the ability to capture storm water, there is the ability to treat our pavements – those hard surfaces that are the really difficult issue when it comes to run-off – things like porous paving, things like better treatment for our street trees, and things like open space, which are all amenity benefits that will flow from this.”

“So what we are intending to do with this integrated water management plan is to better mimic the natural water cycle. That is about capturing more to the water in the upper catchment before it becomes an issue as it flows down Elizabeth St.”

“We want to improve the existing vegetation that is already there but taking the threat of flooding and turning that into a resource for our street trees and parks and gardens.”

“This (plan) contains everything from rooftops to footpaths to roads to private land holdings, government land holdings and even takes in things like the new Melbourne design school where they have installed huge storm water catchment.”

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