Over the period of February 9 to 11 2017, the region received significant rainfall as a result of a tropical low off the west coast of Western Australia in the Indian Ocean. This significant rainfall event led to isolated flooding across the region which has damaged local roads and drainage systems. The event has been declared a natural disaster under the Western Australia Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (WANDRRA) and has been allocated the Australian Government Reference Number (AGRN) 743.
Being declared a natural disaster means that Federal Government assistance becomes available to help the community recover from the disaster. This also means that the local government can access funds (WANDRRA Funding) to assist with the reinstatement of essential public assets such as roads and drainage systems. WANDRRA Funding is administered by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). There are strict guidelines relating to how WANDRRA Funding for restoration of essential public assets can be utilised.
The funding ultimately comes from the Federal Government under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NADRRA) and reimburses the Shire for eligible costs incurred in undertaking restoration work where the resources engaged to undertake the restoration work is additional to the Shire’s usual resources. This is because the funding is only available where the State and / or local government have exhausted their own available resources.
The Shire’s 2016/17 budget has been put together on the basis that its workforce is fully employed in delivering its capital works program and normal maintenance activities. As such it is fully engaged. If the Shire were to divert its workforce to restoration of roads and drainage systems damaged by the flooding, there would be two issues. Firstly, the Shire would not receive funding for restoration works and secondly the Shire’s Capital Works program would be delayed risking already committed funding.
The Shire of Kondinin, through WALGA and other avenues, are advocating for these unsatisfactory rules associated with WANDRRA funding to local governments to change. The Shire of Kondinin are capable of carrying out this repair work using its own workforce during normal working hours, but under WANDRRA rules we are forced to engage contractors to do the work. Significant financial benefit can be gained by the Shire if it carries out the work rather than engaging contractors.
The Shire has engaged Core Business Australia, a consultancy group, who are experienced in assessing the extent of damage and assisting the Shire in administering flood recovery work associated under the WANDRRA scheme. The Core Business Australia team will undertake a detailed assessment of the damage associated with the flooding, identifying eligible work. The cost of reinstatement of the damage to current day engineering standards will then be estimated and submitted to Main Roads Western Australia / OEM for approval.
Core Business Australia will then work with the Shire to call tenders / quotations to engage suitably equipped and experienced contractors to undertake the repairs, (if the Shire is unsuccessful in getting the WANDRRA rules changed to allow the Shire to carry out the work itself. Core Business Australia will then supervise the works and ensure they are carried out to a suitable standard and prepare claims for reimbursement of the Shire’s costs from Main Roads Western Australia and OEM. There is extensive damage to the Shire’s roads network and the Shire needs to ensure that it is well documented in order to justify any claim. This is particularly important as the Shire may either not have a claim approved if work is found to be ineligible or may have to refund money if it has been paid and found to be ineligible as a result of audit. This represents a significant financial risk to the Shire. Therefore it is important to undertake a thorough assessment.
Undertaking a thorough assessment of all damage over the Shire’s entire road network will take some time. While this is occurring, it is important that the Shire not repair the damage utilising its own resources as the costs of these repairs will not be refunded. Nonetheless, it is important that the Shire maintains (as far as practicable) a safe and accessible road network. This will be done through the usage of signage and markers.
Over this period, the community are requested to please be patient of the disruption caused by the damage and exercise extra caution when using the road network until permanent repairs can be affected.
Following assessment, it will still take several months to engage contractors (if required) and attend to all repairs across the Shire. It is not unusual for events such as this to take 10 to 18 months to complete (dependent upon the total extent of damage). While the Shire could engage more resources to complete the works quicker, there are limitations on the Shire’s cash flow abilities. This is because the Shire needs to pay for the works upfront and then reclaim the expenditure from WANDRRA. The Shire needs to balance cash flow with work activity whilst endeavouring to maintain a safe and accessible network.
The Shire will endeavour to keep the community informed over the course of this project
For some time now the King Rocks dam located on King Rocks Road 30km north east of Hyden has been leaking particularly when the weather warms up. The dam is listed as one of the Strategic Emergency Water Supplies in the Shire of Kondinin and is vested with the Department of Water. Water from the Rock dam is piped to near-by storage tanks for easy access for local farmers.
The Departments Rural Water Program contracted GHD Consultancy to investigate the cause of the leaking and determine the repair and management options available. Core samples were taken along the face of the wall and analysis undertaken to determine the condition, strength and density of the concrete. It was found that the concrete was in good condition considering the age of the structure. The leaking however is caused by movement when the wall heats up and cools down. This movement known as thermal expansion is generating excessive forces on the wing walls causing them to rotate at their bases and has caused the joints between the concrete layers to open. The upper layer of the wall has also lifted leaving an opening at the top of the wall.
Investigations highlighted that remedial works would need to address issues including the thermal movement, entrance of water into the lift joints, overall stabilisation of the wall and reconstructing the top portion of the wall. Cost estimates have been proposed for several repair options and range between $500,000 to $800,000.
Because of the high costs, the Department of Water need to consider whether it is practical to carry out the remedial works and justify the expenditure. They are therefore seeking the opinion of local farmers and community regarding the number of farmers reliant on King Rocks as an off farm emergency water supply. The Department is also open to suggestions of any other alternative cost effective emergency water supply options.
Please contact Alan George at the Shire of Kondinin on 9889 1006, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your thoughts and ideas to PO Box 7 Kondinin WA 6367.
For more information please contact us.