The race to build a wall to protect Echuca from the rising waters of the Murray River has angered local residents, who say they are on the “wrong” side of the man-made dam.
Major flooding is expected on the Murray River in Echuca on Wednesday, but water levels are not expected to peak until Thursday or Friday.
There are concerns that the river level could even exceed the 94.77m recorded during the 1993 floods.
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Echuca residents have spent the last few days building a makeshift 2.5-kilometer sandbag flood dike to protect thousands of homes and businesses.
However, the wall effectively divided the city, leaving about 60 lots on what many saw as the ‘wrong’ side, vulnerable to flooding.
Ben Crooks, who lives on this side of the dam, said the situation was “devastating”.
“It’s very sad. It’s going to be a total loss and you know it’s probably going to be a two-year rebuild,” he said, referring to his home.
A resident who lived on the wrong side told 7NEWS that the flood wall was built on the exact same spot during the 1993 floods. He said he had hoped lessons would be learned since then.
“There was no dam built behind (our house) to help with something like that,” he said.
“You are on the left, you will carry the water. You’re on the right, everything will be fine.
“But they have to make a decision about who they want to save and unfortunately we’re in the wrong place.”
Tim Wiebusch, chief operating officer of Victoria’s State Ambulance Service, defended the wall on Wednesday, saying it was developed by the Incident Controller in collaboration with the River Basin Management Authority, local government, Victoria Police and others.
“Yes, that will mean that a small number of properties outside of this dike may also be affected,” he said.
While a review is underway into the impact of the flood wall around Flemington Racecourse on the Maribyrnong River on nearby properties, the Herald Sun reported on Wednesday that there had recently been a proposal to build another.
Maribyrnong residents with houses damaged by flooding have criticized the wall, which was built in 2007, claiming it is pushing more water back onto their properties.
“We’re looking at photos and (the track) looks very green compared to us, we’re very muddy at the moment,” Barbara Milianti told 7NEWS.
“So yeah, (our) neighbors aren’t happy at all.”
Last week, Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons took to Twitter to congratulate the Victorian Racing Club and its former chairman Michael Burn for investing in a wall that prevented “100 year flooding from affecting the Melbourne Cup Carnival”.
Many were upset with Symon’s post, calling it “distasteful.”
“But who really cares about the surrounding properties, the horses have to be racing,” wrote one user.
“Ah yes so grateful that an open expanse of empty land was saved and the water was piped into people’s homes instead,” wrote another.
Now it has been reported by the Herald Sun that Melbourne Water has proposed building another flood wall just 200m off course to protect a new future development area.
Maribyrnong City Council is considering a $250 million plan to build a 14-story “sky district” but has been considering ways to reduce flood risk since 2020, the news agency said.
Melbourne Water put forward a plan for a 2.7m flood wall that would protect new developments on Kensington Rd and Hobsons Rd.
While the additional wall on the east bank of the river would provide more protection, the proposal did not specify whether the structure would increase the risk of flooding in other suburbs.
The plan is now under re-examination following claims that the current flood wall may have exacerbated the flooding in Maribyrnong.
Melbourne Water is currently reviewing the impact of the racecourse wall on homes in the area but has not been given a deadline to report to the government.
https://7news.com.au/news/vic/sixty-echuca-properties-in-the-firing-line-as-wall-leaves-them-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-murray-river-c-8588894 Sixty Echuca properties in the line of fire as the wall leaves them on the “wrong” side of the Murray River