Councils in stand-off over levee

By PETER CATON

DOZENS of homes could suffer major flood damage if Tweed Shire Council succeeds with legal moves to smash holes in a major flood wall.

The homes only narrowly escaped flooding yesterday, but would have gone under should the wall have been opened up.

Householders in Ocean Shores fear the push to install huge drains in a bund wall would have devastating effects on them following heavy rain falls which started on Wednesday night.

Tweed Shire Council wants the holes in the wall to save local canefields from flooding.

The Council has threatened to sue Byron Shire Council, which represents the householders, unless action is taken to put giant concrete culverts in the wall along the northern side of Ocean Shores.

Yesterday floodwaters backed up against the wall and back into Tweed Shire along Crabbes Creek.

Canefarmers say the wall restricts drainage to the south into Marshall's Creek and the Brunswick River and flooding threatens to destroy cane crops.

Canegrowers are angry nothing has been done about the wall since it was built 13 years ago by developers, and argue long periods of inundation threaten to ruin cane crops.

But Brunswick Heads-based Byron councillor Tom Tabart said yesterday Byron Shire Council was not about to buckle ? and feared being sued by householders "if someone ends up worse off".

The so-called Kallaroo Circuit bund blocks most floodwater entering Capricornia Canal in South Golden Beach and then Marshall's Creek which runs through Ocean Shores.

Water is forced to drain more slowly to the north from Crabbes Creek into Mooball Creek.

"The southsiders are vehemently against doing anything and the canefarmers on the north side vehemently want to drain their fields faster," said Cr Tabart.

He said the problem had escalated because the Mooball Crabbes Creek Drainage Union, representing canefarmers, had drained canelands to the south "rather than to the north where they drain naturally".

Drainage union spokesman, canegrower Earl Foyster said 1400 hectares had been blocked from draining quickly by the wall and if cane was inundated for two or three days "you can write it off".

Tweed Shire Council acting chief engineer Patrick Knight said Byron council had signed an agreement in 1996 to install two large box culverts measuring three metres by 2.7 metres each in the wall, but nothing had been done.

He said a clause in Byron's Local Environment Plan prohibited any action that could increase flood levels and councillors had rejected a recommendation from their officers to change the rule.

Tweed Shire Council has now given Byron Shire 60 days to explain what it is going to do or face legal action.



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