Rocky home owner's 30-year flood dispute with council
A FORMER nurse at Rockhampton Base Hospital has spoken out about his 30-year battle with council over flooding concerns at his property in Wandal.
Peter Witt, now living in Toowoomba, bought the former housing commission property on Heilbronn St while he was a student nurse at the Rockhampton Hospital, not knowing the property was directly in the path of a water run-off.
Mr Witt said his flooding concerns stemmed from a property located up-stream of his property.
The property he described was 35 Jardine St, a council-owned block which be believed was maintained by a neighbouring property
The block hosts a lush green lawn with some play equipment.
"After one flood I had approached Cr Cherie Rutherford to see if something could be done with the storm water pipes that run down the lower side of Jardine St," Mr Witt said.
"I thought (Council) would be able to increase the apron to increase the holding capacity of 35 Jardine St, which would then work like a dam and hold the water until the pipes were able to drain the water out slowly.
"However, the block is fairly flat so once the pipe's capacities are met, it overflows all the way down to Western St.
"Cherie Rutherford told me she would not take that request to council because the people next door on Jardine St keep the block so neat and tidy."
Now, Mr Witt leases the property and his main concerns lay with the safety of his tenants and his legal responsibility to provide them with safe housing.
He believes the flood risk makes the property unsafe, exposing him to liabilities.
"There is 25ha of catchment that discharges directly through my property - I rent this property, I can't discriminate as to who I rent it too, what can I do?" he said.
"This isn't Better Homes and Gardens."
Mr Witt said his grievances with council now span decades and he had not had a satisfactory resolution, despite the requests to multiple departments and representatives.
Despite his property never having received damage from flooding, he told of a time he had to physically redirect flood water away from his house and he was confident serious property damage from a large scale flooding event is inevitable.
"It's never been washed away obviously," Mr Witt said.
"When it has flooded there, I had to use a fence panel to trap the things that were valuable to me and stop them from washing away."
Peter Kofod, general manager of regional services said council faced a constant battle with the mitigation of flood risks in Rockhampton.
"Council is progressively rolling out flood mitigation works across the region to address historic problems which arise from the fact Rockhampton was founded on a floodplain," he said.
"Every year Council spends $3million building new detention basins, enlarging drainage pipes and doing other mitigation works.
"These works are based on detailed hydrological engineering assessments and prioritised based on the severity of the impact.
"So far we have completed five big storm-water projects to reduce flood risks in long-term problem areas - three on northside and two on the southside.
Mr Kofod said he had dealt with the majority of Mr Witt's complaints and his department continued to work towards mitigating flood risk for not only his property, but other properties in the area.
"Mr Witt's property, along with a number of others, was built during the 1970s in an overland flow path which floods when heavy rain hits the catchment," he said.
"He has contacted a number of different people at council about this, most recently the Mayor and Cr Cherie Rutherford.
"They both immediately referred his concerns to myself and my engineering team to investigate as his concerns are technical in nature.
"We have been talking to Mr Witt and provided him with flood information for his property.
"We have also informed him that council is looking at mitigation options for the entire catchment, rather than just his property alone, as part of our continuing mitigating programme which is in response to our flood management study," Mr Kofod said.
Neither Mr Kofod or council commented on the management of 35 Jardine St brought into question by Mr Witt.