No ‘mitigation’ of major dust hazard for road users

2567 dust Col Rose OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA

 

May Taylor, Director Regions Transport Services & Safety Alice Springs in the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics seems to have no idea what is going on south of the new suburb, Kilgariff, where about a square kilometre of land has been utterly denuded of grasses, shrubs and trees.

 

She issued a “Kilgariff stakeholder fact sheet” on July 26 – one and a half weeks ago – that the NT Government is “delivering construction of an extension of the main Kilgariff storm water drain” and work would begin on July 30.

 

In fact the destruction of the landscape was already well under way in May when we reported concerns of the Arid Lands Environment Committee, and published photographs of the works.

 

Ms Taylor says in her sheet: “Works are expected to generate minor dust and noise during the constructon period, and appropriate mitgations will be in place.”

 

The “minor dust” yesterday afternoon was so dense that visibility for drivers on Colonel Rose Drive was down to a few meters, creating a major traffic threat. There was no evidence of “appropriate mitigation”.

 

Ms Taylor explains: “These works will extend the [Kilgariff] drain alongside the Stuart Highway and Colonel Rose Drive. Construction of this secton will prevent pooling and allow the storm water to flow and discharge at an appropriate location across Colonel Rose Drive.”

 

2567 St Mary's Creek at AZRI entrance, March 1, 2010If this ecological vandalism has as its objective the control of water flow across Colonel Rose Drive, then it is a complete waste of time: At no time in the past 40 years, except for a day or so in the peak flood year of 1988, has there been a problem.

 

Quite clearly, that will re-occur at huge rainfall events because the water is apparently still directed across the road, not under it.

 

The work, according to Ms Taylor’s notice, will continue till the end of this month.

 

We are seeking comment from the department.

 

 

UPDATE August 9

 

The Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics said it would not comment.

 

 

UPDATE August 7, 8.15am

 

Life-long resident of the area and historian, Alex Nelson, writes:-

 

I’ve selected some photos that I think serve to illustrate how totally over the top the drainage channel work is on the corner of Colonel Rose Drive and the south Stuart Highway.

 

In short, that corner doesn’t flood; and as for St Mary’s Creek, it barely – and rarely – manages to flow as far as Colonel Rose Drive and hasn’t ever posed a significant flood problem in that vicinity; for example, in March 2010 the water over the road was a shallow sheet that didn’t impede traffic at all.

 

St Mary's Creek floodout, March 1, 2010 - AZRI boundaryTo my knowledge, in my lifetime St Mary’s Creek has flowed in January 1966 (breaking of the drought), 1974 (wettest year on record), early April 1988 (last major flood in town – 30 years ago), and most recently in 2010 (second-wettest year on record).

 

I don’t know if it did so in either 2000 or 2001, which were both very wet years. In short, they are very rare and short-lived events.

 

In my opinion, the drainage works currently underway is a major waste of taxpayers’ funds and, frankly, a scandal. It’s just so ridiculous and absurd.

 

PHOTOS of water on the road, all from March 1, 2010, by ALEX NELSON (from top): St Mary’s Creek at AZRI entrance, Stuart Highway, opposite Radio 8HA • St Mary’s Creek floodout, AZRI boundary • St Mary’s Creek floodout, view east along Colonel Rose Drive.

 

St Mary's Creek floodout, March 1, 2010 - view east

 

 

 

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6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. R Henry
    Posted August 7, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    I remember in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, working on the new subdivisions. We had to adhere to dust suppression practice and complaints from the public would halt work until public works were satisfied.
    When Kilgariff was at the kerb and guttering stage with a few foundations we had a fair drop of rain and driving past on the highway I observed the kerbs were not visible under the water and I thought how quaint to keep the new suburb in keeping with some other parts of Alice Springs with poor drainage.

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  2. Posted August 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Most interesting comment from Melissa (Posted August 7, 2018 at 2:09 pm) because, if her observation is correct, it indicates the layout of streets and drainage in Kilgariff has been very poorly designed.
    That area previously simply did not get inundated, even in heavy rainfall events – the water simply soaked into the ground or drained naturally towards St Mary’s Creek.
    If “the existing drains filled near to capacity on relatively light rains” then that is an indictment on the standard of work allowed to pass acceptance for this new suburb.
    It would seem this whole development is more scandalous than I first realised.

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  3. Mellisa
    Posted August 7, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    What a non-issue! The drain was obviously necessary as the existing drains filled near to capacity on relatively light rains.
    This allows the overflow to dissipate through a combination of absorption and evaporation.
    Won’t be long before this area is grassed and the minor dust issue gone.

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  4. Posted August 7, 2018 at 11:16 am

    @ The Bush Engineer (Posted August 7, 2018 at 10:30 am) might like to have the courage of his/her convictions and come out of hiding from behind your psuedonym.
    What we’ve got in this situation is a case of massive over-engineering, a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Kilgariff is situated on a higher level of ground to the adjacent St Mary’s Creek channel and all that is (was) required was to run smaller channels from the streets and kerbsides towards the lower area.
    What we’ve now ended up with is a situation that will create a knock-on effect, increasing the likelihood and frequency of increased water flow over Colonel Rose Drive which in turn will necessitate extra engineering works to mitigate that situation, too.
    But hey! That’s the name of the game, isn’t it? To keep those taxpayers’ dollars flowing to prop up private enterprise – all that rich white fella welfare disguised as keeping the economy going! That’s the way it’s always been done here in the Territory, especially since Self-Government!
    Let’s remember Kilgariff only proceeded after 2009 in order to circumvent native title issues in and around the main town area.
    Prior to that it had always been official government policy (both Commonwealth era and during the long reign of CLP government 1974-2001) never to develop suburbia south of the Gap.

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  5. The Bush Engineer
    Posted August 7, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Following Mr McBasketball’s astute observation and from a somewhat educated viewpoint, one would assume that the drain extension is to mitigate flooding impacts at the new Kilgariff Subdivision.
    I mean, you can’t go an build a subdivision without adequate drainage.
    That could lead to flooding of newly built roads and private properties. Which would be truly irresponsible and maybe even qualify as a genuine “scandal”.
    Putting adequate drainage in always seems “ridiculous and absurd” to those who see no value in them until there is a truly epic flood (interestingly, those mentioned in the article are good examples, however the Kilgariff Subdivision was not in existence during any of those events).
    Unfortunately councils and developers are among those who have trouble seeing the benefits, as they look to minimise maintenance and construction budgets respectively.
    Typically, when a biblical event like this occurs, and houses are flooded and property damaged, the pitchfork wielding folks who say that drains are a waste of money tend to go missing, while landowners are left with hefty clean-up bills and increased insurance premiums.
    In kind, councils are left with tricky flood mitigation retro-fitting in built-up areas, and that can cost serious tax bikkies.
    Might even go and sue the engineer who designed “scandalously inadequate drainage”.
    Good examples of this are found in South-east Queensland, where flooding is a major issue in built up areas.
    And just look at the new Rapid Creek flood mitigation project in Darwin. There will be detractors to that project, but I’m sure the land-owners in the affected catchment won’t be arguing that that project represents a “waste of money”.
    Notwithstanding the above, the dust is an issue that needs to be addressed and the responsible contractors and agencies need to pull their proverbials out.

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  6. Cranjis McBasketball
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Could possibly be a storm drain for the expansion of the Kilgariff subdivision? You don’t engineer drains based on the yearly or even 25 yearly events – they have to be planned for the 100 yearly events.

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