REVEALED: Council’s new-look flood levee approach
A NEW approach to the South Rockhampton Flood Levee construction has been revealed after Rockhampton Regional Council was ordered back to the drawing board late last month.
Minutes from a special council meeting last week revealed councillors agreed to put the levee project out to tender with two construction strategies - build the levee or stage construction over a number of years.
The final cost to build the 8.7km levee remains unknown, but estimates have blown out from $60 million to $109 million over the past year.
Following news of the cost blowout, council urgently requested an additional $15 million each from the state and federal governments, which was rejected.
Fearing further cost blowouts, the governments demanded council stick to the approved budget and reconsider building the levee in stages.
The council's general manager of regional services Peter Kofod told The Morning Bulletin last month that logistic uncertainties and a final price tag would be resolved by putting the contract out to tender.
At last week's special meeting, Mr Kofod updated councillors on progress before presenting the options and detailing the proposal to call for tenders for the different approaches.
Option A would invite tenders for complete construction of the levee bank "in one go as currently designed and documented".
The alternative, Option B, would see the construction broken into three stages and built as the money became available.
Stage one would see a section of the levee built from the Fitzroy Bridge to Quay Street crossover ramp (except the temporary levee section on Quay Street), flood gates across QR tracks, flood gates across Old Bruce Highway, private property access gate and all concrete works at the three pump stations but without electrical and mechanical works.
Stage two includes earthen embankment works and all remaining works to complete and commission the project.
The third stage would be to operate of the levee for three years before commencing a phased hand over to the council which would allow council staff to learn how to operate the levee and pump stations.
At last week's special meeting, councillors resolved to commit to the stage one construction only if it was kept within the committed funding of $65 million.
They planned to wait until sufficient funding was secured from the state and federal governments before seeking to complete Stage two of construction.
The staged rollout is a turnaround from the council's previous stance, which regarded a staged construction as unfeasible due to "technical and functional considerations".
Mr Kofod said the staged option was "obviously better" than losing the project altogether, but needed a willingness from all levels of government to look for funding to complete the project.
"Any proposals for staging of the project would need to return to the council table for consideration," he said.
"There is no option for a staged delivery that provides protection to just the most vulnerable properties.
"This means any staged delivery will leave 1500 properties, 3000 jobs and sections of the Bruce Highway vulnerable to flood damage until the job is done and the levee is complete."
This afternoon the council's chief executive Evan Pardon confirmed the resolution to call for tenders to build the levee either "all in one go, or in stages".
"This course of action was taken by council to allow officers to continue to progress the project and we are now talking to other levels of government to ensure the approvals and commitments are in place to make the project tender ready," Mr Pardon said.
He said council was continuing to work closely with other levels of government to progress the levee.
"We will continue to work with all parties in good faith to keep this project on track," he said.
In June, Mr Koford predicted tenders would be invited in November with a view to push dirt by March 2020.
The special meeting minutes are on the agenda for Tuesday's council meeting.