top of page

Councils on high alert as roads cut, levee banks topped up

NSW Ambulance Area Inspector Ben Loiacono and Bourke Station Manager Mick Poyser inspecting the water levels on the levee bank behind Alice Edwards Village. Photo TWH

The communities of Bourke, Louth, Brewarrina, and Walgett are either isolated or making preparations for flooding as the Barwon Darling River churns its way down saturated floodplains, cutting roads and threatening protective levee banks.

In response to the evolving emergency, the NSW Government has released $200,000 to the Bourke Shire Council which is working against the clock to repair disintegrating levee banks at the Alice Edwards Village and Louth.

Emergency services are on standby in Brewarrina in the event the entire town is cut off by floodwaters and urgent plans were drawn up late on Tuesday as the villages of Barwon Four and the Essie Coffey Bush Queen Village faced isolation.

Walgett Shire Council also drew up an

emergency response plan on Tuesday after the Castlereagh Highway was closed between Walgett and Coonamble, and roads to Lightning Ridge and Collarenebri were cut due flood waters and road damage.

All three Councils are urging residents to keep up to date with conditions and stay off the roads unless travel was essential.

In Bourke, Alice Edwards Village residents have been alerted that they may be ordered to evacuate as the Darling Baaka rises to heights of approximately 13 metres. At Louth, tonnes of soil will be added to the levee bank in preparation for expected major flooding at the end of November.

Bourke Shire Council General Manager Leonie Brown said the Louth levee was in a state of disrepair and would be unable to protect the town if the river levels rose to the predicted 13.5 metres by the end of the month.

“Predictions for an increase in flood levels and with the continuing rain, we know the village could have become inundated,” Mrs Brown said.

“I inspected the levee bank on Friday, along with other Council staff members and saw that the levee would not protect the village in its current condition.

“The State Government has kindly provided $200,000 in funding for the urgent earthworks required for the levee to protect the village.

“That levee was built in the 1970s and from my understanding was never engineered. It was built as an emergency levee. Council and local residents have always topped it up over the years as floods were expected.

“Council has completed a study on the Louth levee recently and we now have a plan for an engineered build to protect the village. “Council is actively seeking funding to complete this work.

“Right now, the flood situation is changing often with the continued rains in the catchment, and residents contacted Council asking for assistance.

“Council made contact with the Public Works Authority seeking financial assistance to undertake works.

“They have been very helpful and have provided urgent funding to increase the levee bank height to approximately 14.2 metres.

“We are expecting the river to peak at around 13.5 metres by late November, but who knows? We could see another big rain event and we really don’t know how much water is still coming down the river system,” Mrs Brown said.

Like the Louth levee, the bank protecting the Alice Edwards Village on the western edge of Bourke is old and also in a state of disrepair. Residents there are on high alert that they may have to leave their homes due to access to the village as the road is cut from Bourke to the community.

“That levee was built in 1995 and has not had a lot of maintenance and has deteriorated and may not protect the village,” Mrs Brown said.

“The state government has provided urgent funding for an upgrade and contractors are already working there to undertake repairs raise the height where required.

“The levee is 15 metres but in some areas is lower than that so we need to get urgent works underway and do everything we can to protect the village.”

The Local Emergency Management Committee is meeting regularly to assess the risk to the community and Mrs Brown said an evacuation order will be issued when the river reaches 12.9 metres - highly likely by the end of the month.

“The evacuation will be managed by a number of agencies, with the SES having the lead role.

“It’s a sensitive issue to have to leave your home and the plan is in consultation with residents and the Nulla Nulla Land Corporation, who are the owners of the Village, and they have been heavily involved in the planning and communication for this event, along with the SES, WELFACS and Aboriginal Affairs.

“When the road to Alice Edwards Village goes under, those residents don’t have access to town and emergency services don’t have access to the Village, so it’s the safest option,” Mrs Brown said.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

To subscribe call (02) 6872 2333 today and receive The Western Herald in your letterbox next week!


bottom of page