Penola’s watershed moment

ONLY TEMPORARY: Wattle Range Council engineering services director Peter Halton in front of a large trench on Penola’s Arthur Street which often overflows during heavy rain downpours. Road works involving the installation of a convectional gravity-driven drainage system across the town’s city business district hopes to fix this problem, planning to be complete by the end of the month. Pictures: MOLLY TAYLOR

By Molly Taylor

STORM water flooding across Penola’s city business district is expected to be a thing of the past in coming weeks with major upgrades to underground drainage almost complete.

An approximate $1m project funded as part of council’s 2020-21 capital works program has resulted in the uplifting of Church Street, Arthur Street and Portland Street in preparation for the instalment of a convectional gravity-driven drainage system.

Expected to be complete by the end of the month, work includes the removal of electronic water pumps and re-location of telecommunication, water main, sewer and National Broadband Network services.

Council engineering services director Peter Halton said he understood traders and residents were frustrated by the road works, but wanted to remind people it was only temporary and the new system was setting Penola up for the future.

“Ultimately the outcome will be to have nice clean streets with water being drawn away and everything working as well as it can,” Mr Halton said.

“Yes, it is a burden while we are currently doing the work, but it is only short-term.”

Riddoch Business and Community Association president Rebecca Trotter said it needed to be kept in mind the upgrades were improving the town and were for the greater good of the surrounding community.

“Road works anywhere are frustrating especially for residents and businesses,” she said.

“We always want them done as quickly as possible, but I think we need to continue focusing on the benefits the work will bring for years to come.

“All road works are messy, but it is getting better and improving every day.”

Ms Trotter said she hoped the ongoing flooding problem Penola had experienced whenever there was a heavy downpour would now be fixed.

With curb work across town initially completed around 20 to 30 years ago, Mr Halton said there was a definite need for an upgrade as an outdated system brought its own challenges.

“At the end of Arthur Street there are some electronic pumps. Whenever there is a power outage, it results in large floods,” he said.

“As everything is already established and services have been installed, now they are in the way and have to be moved.

“We could choose to ignore and leave it, but whenever we do have a rain event, main areas would continue to to be swamped.”

Mr Halton said although the work would be preferred to not be completed during the wet weather season, it was considerably an ideal time for traders.

“I can guarantee you if this was happening during the middle of summer while we were trying to bring people into town, the traders would be horrified,” he said.

“We are trying to put what we have back here as quickly as possible, to try and relieve the pressures of trade and so people can get back to normality.”

Council has installed corflute signage across town to inform community members of the works.

“We hope it does not impact on visitors’ experience and we want to encourage people to come back,” Mr Halton said.

“Signage explains to the public this is not what Penola usually looks like and the work is improving the town.”

Mr Halton also apologies to businesses for miscommunication between traders and disconnection and reconnection of services during the process.

The project is expected to be one of three with similar work occurring in Julian Street several years ago and a third stage planned for the future.