THE region’s SES boss has hit out at Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI) for refusing to co-operate in a wide-ranging review of the March flood disaster.
Hydrology consultants WMA Water have been commissioned by the SES to undertake a weeping flood intelligence review, gathering information from emergency services, State Water and hundreds of residents in flood-affected areas.
But despite owning most of the water infrastructure in the area, MI has baulked at providing vital information to investigators, blaming the threat of legal action.
SES regional controller James McTavish said the irrigation company’s reluctance to talk could stymie the investigation and impact on future flood management in the district.
“They (MI) own the infrastructure and they had men out in the field during the floods, yet they’ve stayed silent and told staff not to comment,” Mr McTavish said.
“Class action or not, they should participate.
“MI are a very important piece of the puzzle and their people in the field have a much greater understanding of the system than anyone else.”
He said WMA Water had requested information from MI in April in a bid to “drill down” into the precise cause of the flood devastation, especially in relation to MI infrastructure such as the East Mirrool Regulator.
“We need to know the direction the water came from, the amount of rainfall in specific areas and the extent of the damage,” Mr McTavish said.
Surveys had also been re-sent to landholders across flood-affected areas, he said.
Yenda farmer Paul Rossetto, who is leading the possible class action against MI, said it was “ludicrous” the company would not take part in the review.
“They only need to worry about legal action if they’ve done something wrong,” Mr Rossetto said.
MI CEO Raveen Jaduram said the company was “not able to provide the extent of information that was requested” by WMA Water due to the legal threat but said it had not ruled out assisting the SES with information.
“We would be more than willing to be involved in assisting the SES with improving their flood response in the MIA,” Mr Jaduram said.