News

Rising river closed off

by
October 13, 2016

A kangaroo jumps through flood water off Picnic Point Rd.

Campaspe River is closed, deemed unsafe for boats and people due to rising water levels.

But despite authorities’ predictions, the Murray will peak at 93.5m today (about a metre lower than the major 1993 flood), it is still open for use.

With hundreds of residents on both sides of the river continuing to sandbag their riverfront properties and holiday parks, Roads and Maritime Services and NSW SES say full closure is unlikely — it will cause more problems than it solves.

But Victoria’s Maritime Safety director Peter Corcoran, who issued the Campaspe ban on Tuesday, said it was not worth taking a risk — declaring the Campaspe River closed between the Warren St and Ogilvie Ave bridges until further notice.

It was an ‘‘urgent safety rule’’ banning all vessels and people from using that part of the river.

But RMS principal manager south Mike Hammond told the Riv it was a much bigger operation to close the Murray — a much bigger river.

‘‘RMS consults with the SES to determine the risk involved with rising water levels and at this stage it’s not quite at that point yet where we would make a big bold step, especially if we can’t back it up,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s difficult to enforce a closure as the SES has no compliance staff, so how would we monitor the river closure? With so much industry and business relying on the Murray we would have to think very carefully.’’

He said it would be a better use of resources to focus on flood preparation, communication and support.

‘‘Vessels that create wash on the river are urged not to use it,’’ he said.

‘‘That would be unhelpful and cause unnecessary damage. It’s important to protect the environment and people’s safety.’’

At a meeting at Echuca Basketball Stadium on Tuesday night, residents complained of seeing ‘‘the riverbank collapse into the water before our eyes’’.

SES representatives said they would look further into the environmental risk, but would likely not consider closure.

The meeting saw representatives from both SES, the North Central Catchment Management Authority and local government address fears of major flooding in the region.

They echoed the message to stay away from flood water and to be prepared.

Free sandbags are available from the SES in Sutton St near Echuca East Oval from 9am today and across the weekend if rain continues.

The Murray River is expected to peak in Echuca today.

Torrumbarry is expected to reach 7.8m on Monday (major flood level), but at this level the water should remain within the levee system.

A flood community meeting will be held in Torrumbarry tonight at 8pm at the Torrumbarry Hotel Lounge.

Campaspe Shire has encouraged people to visit the Bureau of Meteorology to monitor river levels (bom.gov.au/vic/warnings/), VicRoads for road closures (www.traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au/) and (emergency.vic.gov.au/respond) for emergency warnings.

Call 000 in emergency situations and 132 500 for the SES.

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