OWNERS of about 35 properties identified as being at risk of inundation if the Dungowan Dam were to ever fail have attended the first of two community information sessions in the local hall.
Residents are still coming to terms with the outcomes of the Dungowan Dam Break Study, which found that in the event of an unexpected dam failure or an extreme flood event, there was a high risk of loss of life at 11 properties downstream from the water storage.
Another 37 valley residents risk having their homes inundated but the risk to life is not considered as high as for those closer to the dam.
Thursday’s five-hour information session, during which council staff met one-on-one with affected residents, did not go entirely to plan, having to be wrapped up early due to a blackout in the area that left the hall in darkness.
However, council’s water enterprises director Bruce Logan said the session had been well-received and residents had welcomed the chance to find out more specific information about what the study meant for them.
For the 11 high-risk properties, the council is presenting two options: the first is for the council to buy the property and demolish the residence at risk; the second is for it to pay an agreed amount of money to allow the property owner to perhaps build a new residence on the same property above the flood height or elsewhere.
For the 37 properties at risk of inundation, the council is proposing the construction of flood refuges above the flood height, to which residents can evacuate.
“It is the start of what will be an ongoing conversation with members of the Dungowan Valley community about the outcomes of the study and what it all means,” Mr Logan said.
“This is not an easy process for either the residents or council, but working together on various issues and concerns is how we will resolve the challenges in a way which satisfies all involved.”
Doug Rixon is one of those residents considered at high risk who is now facing the heartbreaking prospect of having his home of 45 years demolished.
He admits he’s still trying to come to terms with the news, but after Thursday’s meeting he accepts there is no other option open to him or his nearest neighbours.
If he can rebuild somewhere else on the property he will, but says it won’t be the same.
“They tell me I’ll have a brand-new house, but I like this one,” he said.
Mr Rixon said he believed the council staff were doing their best in a difficult situation and felt his meeting on Thursday had given him the opportunity to have his questions answered.
Anything they didn’t know at that time, he said, they’d resolved to find out for him before the second information session next Thursday.
What also became clear, Mr Rixon said, was that while he would be compensated for the cost of his relocation, there was no compensation available for the relocation of several sheds around his current home.
He’s now waiting for the council to come back to him with some information on just how long it would take the water to reach his property in the event of a dam failure or extreme flooding.