Gloucester region river swell to flooding point across the weekend

Evidence of the amount of rain that fell in the Gloucester region across the weekend remained on Monday morning. Photo Anne Keen
Evidence of the amount of rain that fell in the Gloucester region across the weekend remained on Monday morning. Photo Anne Keen

The water situation in the Gloucester region has gone from famine to feast in a matter of weeks.

It was just about six weeks ago that MidCoast Council made the call to start carting water into the town's water supply, and now, after a weekend of heavy, consistent rainfall, the region's rivers are breaking the banks.

Thankfully though, the rainfall was not as drastic as some areas of New South Wales, and Gloucester State Emergency Service crews were not swapped with call outs.

According to SES controller. Rob McNiece it was a relatively calm weekend with just a couple of calls about leaking roofs.

"We did get a few call outs for cattle in the water but that's a bit out of our area," Rob smiled.

Although Gloucester did see a bit of flooding along its normal flood routes, including swallowing up major parts of Gloucester District Park and creating mini lakes along the Avon River flats, there were no major disasters reported.

Gloucester River swelled during the weekend with parts of Gloucester District going under on Sunday morning. Photo Trudy Schultz

Gloucester River swelled during the weekend with parts of Gloucester District going under on Sunday morning. Photo Trudy Schultz

"Barrington River reached moderate flood levels, Gloucester River reached moderate flood levels and the Avon was much the same," Rob explained.

The rivers reached peak levels on Sunday morning (February 9) with Gloucester River at Gloucester recording 4.7 metres at 7.10am and again at 9.10am before dropping off steady.

One unexpected fall out from the weather event was part of Craven Close being washed out during the peak of the rain, leaving residents of the cul de sac stranded. Council has sent out a crew to construct a temporary bridge to enable residents to get in and out of their properties.

Craven Close washed out during the heaving rain on the weekend. Photo Trudy Schultz

Craven Close washed out during the heaving rain on the weekend. Photo Trudy Schultz

Other roads in the region have been affected by the rain with Wauikvory Road being closed to through traffic after a landslip. There have also been several road closures in the area due to flooding, including Jacks Road, Bowman River Road, Gloucester Tops Road, Bowman Farm Road and Barrington East Road.

The plus side to the downpour, according to council's director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Robert Scott is the amount of water that has fallen in the catchment.

"The rivers are full," Mr Scott said.

A comment that hasn't been made about the region in a very long time.

Council was able to restart pumping from the Barrington River in late January after decent rainfall hit the catchment, however, water carting to the region continued. Due to the emergency start to the water carting, council had to enter into a contract with McColl's Transport.

The contract was for a minimum of one month carting with a one month cancellation notification. This meant that council needed to make the call about no longer needing the service well in advance of the service ceasing. With an eye on the weather forecast, Mr Scott said council put in the call to cancel the carting on January 22. After that date, council decreased the frequency of deliveries and diverted water to Stroud to help with its diminishing water supply.

Since the weekend has brought such a bounty of water, Mr Scott said council will be looking to negotiate with McColl's Transport to exit the contract.

A report on the cost of water carting was tabled at council's ordinary meeting on Wednesday, February 5 in Forster. So far, it's estimated of the actual costs of carting from December 27, 2019 to 23 January 23, 2020 based on usage is $560,000. This period is to be mostly covered by a state government subsidy to the value of around $420,000.

"Therefore the balance of costs funded by council will be approximately $140,000," the report stated.

However, as the contract is still in play, the final figures are yet to be confirmed.

Also as a result of the recent rainfall, council dropped the region's water restriction from level four to level two on Friday, February 7.

MidCoast Coucil dropped its water restriction level from four to two just before the heavy rain flooded the Avon River flats. Photo Anne Keen

MidCoast Coucil dropped its water restriction level from four to two just before the heavy rain flooded the Avon River flats. Photo Anne Keen