Long-term infrastructure approach sought

November 23, 2016

Council needs to keep table drains clear so paddocks can drain.

Hamish Sinclair estimates overall crop losses on his land at Bungeet and Devenish would be 20 per cent.

‘‘The canola is the worst. We have lost 25 per cent of the area we sowed, it’s just dead from the water. We spent a lot of money on those hectares that got washed out because we put all the input costs in. We usually budget on spending between $250 and $350 a hectare and we sowed about 600ha of canola,’’ Mr Sinclair said.

That equates to a loss of more than $700000 just in inputs and doesn’t include income not received for the failed crops.

Mr Sinclair believes losses would have been less had Benalla Rural City Council better maintained drainage, though he acknowledges the council may not be aware of the problem.

‘‘It would be good to have a look at drainage across the shire because this year has certainly highlighted where there are a few challenges with infrastructure that’s not been allowing water to get away as quickly as it should. A lot of the drains are in a state of disrepair or blocked or the water just can’t physically get away.

‘‘We have thought this year of just approaching the shire about perhaps doing some things on our own (clearing roadside drains) but it’s a bit of a Catch 22, like the patto (Paterson’s curse weed). Once you start spraying they just absolve themselves of any responsibility.

‘‘I guess that’s why we pay rates to some extent. We have done a bit of spraying in culverts just to reduce the grass a bit so it’s a bit barer for the water to get away.

‘‘Their (the council’s) task is enormous. There hasn’t been any real visionary strategy come out of the council for a long time in terms of addressing roads and drainage and infrastructure going forward. We seem to always be in this cycle now playing catch-up and fixing things as they bust. We probably need to come up with a longer-term strategy in more of a proactive way I think.

‘‘It varies from person to person. Some people with better drainage would be having a fantastic year.

‘‘For us it just comes back to spending. To make people aware, there’ll be a lot of money this year that won’t be spent in the shire. Cash flow will be a bit tight.’’

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