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Deakin Flash Flooding?

By johnboy 22 January 2009 36

[First filed: January 16, 2009 @ 10:43]

Someone called “sammyliveshere” has got a serious bee in her bonnet about flash flooding in Deakin.

Her point is that infill in Deakin has put more load on an old storm water infrastructure resulting in her house flooding when it rains. Her profile carries this note:

    Four Storm Water Flash Floods is all a girl can take! Carpets up, floorboards ruined, furniture water stained, 15 x Sandbags lined up and protecting my door! Can’t someone start the work to stop this happening again?

To prove her point she’s uploaded video here, here, here, and here.

UPDATED: SammyLivesHere has made a lengthy comment on this which I thought deserved front page attention:

    Dear All,
    Thank you for all your comments regarding the Storm Water situation in Canberra – particularly old suburbs. Having (yes) met with Mr Hargreaves and others and with a direct line to ActewAGL and TAMS I can assure all the readers of the following:

    Here are my thoughts after reading all these posts. Some people ‘get it’ – some people know what it could be like having the contents of a storm water drain channel through your block/house.. some think I may be crying too loud and ‘what’s a bit of run-off’ maybe?

    ActewAGL had a contract to clean the ‘filter traps’ and maintain sumps – but are now handing it back to TAMS – so when the Yarralumla trap fills (see my photo in the Canberra times on 15 Feb 2007) – it overflows onto the Oval there and right near the Primary School! Take a drive one day and look at the drain system we have.

    “La Mente Torbida” no doubt if you are like me you are also at the Yarralumla Residents meeting for the new “storm water ponds”? Yes, I submitted photos on behalf of Deakin and Yarrlumla residents – and if water comes into you house as well (like it does mine) – yesterday was a close call – at 10cm deep – you may appreciate my video and my 3-year battle with ACT Government to upgrade the older suburbs (and no, there is NO plan in place it is on a disaster by disaster basis).

    I’m working very hard to get ACT Planning (I notice they haven’t been given a plug in this whole mess here) to STOP putting houses on ’slabs’ until they insist the builder builds up like the old house – at least the river would wash past the front door, and not come in it. Mr Barr has a lot to answer for – the shortcuts to approvals here in the ACT absolute amaze me – you would not get such flippant designs and lack of stormwater plans (as compulsory) in WA! Here it is just a guide and you don’t have to ‘do it’…. don’t get me started with this lack of Strategic, ability to view a Contour map – before they approval plans AND ask the question ‘are there any problems with flooding in the area before we approve this fence to fence property or huge complex?’ – like the demolition of the Embassy Site for 4-huge 4-6 storey apartments and guess where their storm water is going to go??? Into pipes already bursting at the seams!

    For the person who said their pipes in the Inner North were replaced – count yourself lucky – the video which JohnBoy led you all to has happened to me four times – and how can ANY reasonable person allow a fellow resident to live in fear like this? No holiday? No ability to call for help (everyone else on holidays)!

    Anyway, I appreciate this is a forum and I’m glad to see nearly everyone appreciates that the present level of redevelopment, of fence to fence houses, large roof space, more catchment, hardspace, no gardens to speak of, and the loss of all our parks to development is getting through – where’s your local park? There’s not much left in Deakin.

    As for driving 4-wheel drives – it seems to me that people use Deakin as a ‘cut through’ to somewhere else – all driving 4-wheel drives, buses etc at great speed – so don’t ask me to slow down in a school zone if they can’t do 50km/hr on my street – lost my cat last year to a speeding driver – but who cares about this? Where are the Police here?

    So, I love Deakin, I love the neighbours – they appreciate the problem but like any normal person stay indoors when it’s raining… me? Next door? Sand-bagging – on high alert and in wet weather gear ‘ready to go’.

    Someone needs to spend $1 million to upgrade the infrastructure – for years many of you and others have put up with water in the garage – as I talk to more and more people (and yes, I’m now been in WIN TV as well) – so many people contact me – how can even that be normal??? But when that house is demolished… what happens now??? A slab home and where does the water go then??? Yes, ACT Planning go “lovely design” – “tick”. They pass the maintenance to TAMS who rely (or relied) on ActewAGL to clean the drains, TAMS to sweep the roads (and how many of you and your neighbours brush your leaves on to the street??) that’s a Canberra habit… the builders don’t keep their dirt from falling down the sump and painters wash their paint tins out… so it’s all so disjointed, with everyone pointing their finger saying “it’s them, not us”.

    Next time it rains (lightning strikes) give a thought to those in the path of storm water rivers (my fault if it came through the roof) – who are fighting to pay their bills because they can’t work when it’s thundering, who have to pay insurance premiums/excess for things they have no control over… and who are not in Fiji but live the same disaster lifestyle – 2 blocks from Kevin Rudd, Prime Minsiter.

    I love Deakin, I love Canberra – no need to be snobby about it – I live next to housing commission and they’re nice people – so we Deakin people are just the same as you.

    Cheers, phew I wrote alot! 🙂

What’s Your opinion?

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36 Responses to
Deakin Flash Flooding?
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SammyLivesHere 10:57 pm 22 Jan 09

Hello. Yes, the storm water road sumps surcharged tonight, all footpaths were a mini-river. Thankfully the heavy rain eased. A few minutes more and I would not be writing this tonight – it’s a stressful situation.

When we are flooded Chewy there is no where for the water to be pumped to – can’t pump it down the rear sump as it is surcharging onto the block as well (all pipes in the area are then too full to take anymore storm water) and the back garden is under 30cm-40cm of water (see video on YouTube). Actually the whole block is under water when we are flooded. Good idea though.

It’s been a long night. Chow.

grundy 8:18 pm 22 Jan 09

How’d you go with the storm tonight? Hope your house is still intact? 😉

Granny 3:02 pm 22 Jan 09

I also feel really sorry for the old people being trapped in their homes.

chewy14 2:39 pm 22 Jan 09


i know its not your problem to have to fix this, but have you thought of installing a sump pump in your basement/garage for when these flooding events occur. It may help to redirect to flow to other areas, ie. backyard, when the stormwater system is beyond capacity.

p1 2:21 pm 22 Jan 09

Big pipes are the 1.8 (six foot) and bigger pipes. Running from Aranda down to Lake Ginninderra there is a section where there are four 1.8 RCPs running parallel.

SammyLivesHere 10:56 am 22 Jan 09

Crispy I’ve seen those tanks on plans (like the redevelopment of Deakin oval to 28 townhouses) – are they compulsory or just a guideline? Thanks for telling us about how it works – I think they are a great idea in older areas for sure – keeping the stormwater onsite until it can flow down the pipes. In Deakin’s case, the pipes completely fill with water in heavy downpour in about 5 minutes (water runs from Red Hill down through Deakin/all gardens/overflow from water tanks/carparks, etc).

The little pipes then all start surcharging, pop their tops if they can, and sending water hammering down the streets to the ‘lowest points’. So the onsite tanks are a great idea for developments where there is less garden than originally planned.

Maybe the ACT Government could also sink a few (underground tanks) on some of the parks which can’t be watered and then use the contents of the tank to water the parks – also saving run-off in heavily built up areas. The pipes in Deakin range from 350mm to 750mm with 900mm under Adelaide Avenue (draining into our outlet to Yarralumla) – according to the plans – is that big? I think 1.2 metres and 1.5 metres is big, like the one at the end of the Red Hill Moat.

You can walk your suburb after a storm and track the path of run-off by the ‘tide marks’ left behind – I just didn’t realise how much rain we got in Canberra until 2006.

Thanks for the wishes everyone.

p1 10:44 am 22 Jan 09

In the older suburbs they tended to try for the engineering solution to everything. Big, high capacity pipes, then open cement channels on the surface. This tended to result in all the runnoff flashing through the catchment very quickly, and if the pipes/channels are not big enough….

More modern designs tend to have smaller pipes with more open grassed floodways, which serve as the cement channels did in the older suburbs, but with much, much slower water flows, and so smaller peaks during large rainfall events.

The latter approach is much better (IMHO), but like everything, it depends how well it is implemented.

ant 9:47 am 22 Jan 09

That’s awful, Sammy, and to have been dealing with it for so many years has plainly taken a toll on you. I’m lucky, being rural I just dig holes and build little levys when storm water becomes a problem, and it’s quite good fun. My storm water doesn’t contain other peoples’ sewerage though, and it’s definitley no knee-high. That’s just nuts.

chrispy 9:30 am 22 Jan 09

I wonder if the older suburbs have always had flooding issues. If you look at newer canberra suburbs like Amaroo or Nicholls they have massively better stormwater systems built into the suburb. This leads me to believe that developers have realised that regular stormwater systems, usually found in other Australian cities, don’t work in Canberra. I suppose what I am saying is that there may be no way to fix the flooding without rebuilding the suburb which is a rather expensive exercise.

As for the infill argument I renovated and extended a home 8 years ago and had to put in a detention tank which slowed down the rate in which water was sent to the stormwater system. The idea was that water from rapid downpours would be caught in the tank and slowly released at the same speed that the original non-extended house would have released water. Hence the flooding or lack of would remain the same and the government wouldn’t have to spend money.

p1 9:29 am 22 Jan 09

I am interested to hear that Deakin has not enough SW capacity. Most of the older suburbs in Canberra are the ones with the biggest pipes.

Danman 8:53 am 22 Jan 09


That flood was pre Yamba Drive roundabout and stormwater drains.

It was when Woden was new, and all the porous runoff surfaces were reclaimed with non porous concrete and bitumen.

As a result all the runoff went to the lowest quickest point to get to – hence the uber huge stomwater channel now, and the raised road.

Still i agree, there should be a memorial (Maybe there is and I am unaware)

SammyLivesHere 8:32 am 22 Jan 09

Something I learnt over the period from 27th Dec is that when you take a sample of storm water is has to be tested within 24 hours and the ACT Government has to send a representative to test the water – you can’t just give it to them. Legal battles are very expensive and even as a winner you can loose. I hear what you say.
Something that isn’t widely known is that 54mm of rain fell that day in this area – not the official reading but BOM have confirmed their Deakin West measure also had a similar result. On researching (as you do) I know now that 50mm or more is the trigger for a flash flood. I since I’ve been flooded I’ve found that back in 1971 7 people died (children) from being washed away in their cars at Yamba Drive – my point about cars is that deep water on roads and cars don’t mix. Hopefully there will be a memorial to them rather than that propellor art work!

Thumper 8:27 am 22 Jan 09

it overflows onto the Oval there and right near the Primary School!

Interestingly, I was playing a game of cricket on that oval back in about 1988 when it rained. A huge sheet of water about a foot and a half high then proceeded across the car park and flooded the complete oval.

The game was abandoned due to flooding!

Madame Workalot 8:22 am 22 Jan 09

Gotcha Sammy – accidents happen. FWIW, I’m sorry for your loss.

Might be worth looking into the liability of the government for the damage incurred by the flooding. I think this could only be an option if you can prove that the government has breached its duty of care by failing to provide adequate drainage. Given the presence of faecal matter, there would also be health risks which makes the matter more serious (although I don’t think the government could be held responsible for the faeces). Might be costly, but could be an option.

Good luck with it.

SammyLivesHere 8:08 am 22 Jan 09


Fair enough Madame Workalot. Unfortunately Sammy got out whilst I was ill – thought I’d locked the cat door – but won’t go there, still painful.

At WoodBridge Courte (public housing for elderly and disabled people) when it rains they are unable to leave their houses – due to the whole grounds being underwater. They’ve lived like this for years. I’ve been in constant contact with Public Housing to help them. Nobody should live with the amount of storm water some of us are.

The water I took as a sample is full of poo. Dog poo, sewerage and oil amongst other things. Everytime I see some not pick up after their dog on the hill I think – God that’s going to be coming my way in a storm (there’s stress for you). I have to walk through it to keep water away.

I hope it get’s fixed and sooner rather than next year during another storm season. The current was strong enough to knock me off my feet, deep enough to drown me if I’d hit my head (over my knees), and full of god knows what type of disease waiting for a ‘host’.

Now ahead is 4-6 months of Insurance nightmare again – time taken off work to let people in or collect furniture, constantly sleeping thinking “if I dig a trench…” “what if I build a wall”.. “are 70 sandbags enough?”… I can’t believe I’m living like this in the National Capital!

Anyway, today the carpets are relaid as they didn’t lay them using the right underlay 3 days ago – so my house is a complete mess – so much for being able to relax over the holidays.

Anyway, thanks for caring – it’s hard to imagine this situation but just think of Fiji and the flooding cause that’s how it feels – you don’t know when the water will stop, how deep it will get, and then you just live in mud & storm water mixed with sewerage and stuff for months until you can hose it all away (it’s hard to ‘save water’ when you are living in such a smell.

Have a great day!

Madame Workalot 7:43 am 22 Jan 09

You had me until this para, Sammy:

“As for driving 4-wheel drives – it seems to me that people use Deakin as a ‘cut through’ to somewhere else – all driving 4-wheel drives, buses etc at great speed – so don’t ask me to slow down in a school zone if they can’t do 50km/hr on my street – lost my cat last year to a speeding driver – but who cares about this? Where are the Police here?”

If you speed through school zones just because people speed down your street, you’re an idiot. I don’t think self-righteousness is going to make you feel any better if you hit a child. Not too sure if that was what you meant by that sentence, but that’s what it came across as.

And I’m sorry, but if your cat was run over I doubt it’s going to make any difference whether the car was doing 50kph or 70kph. Is it the driver’s fault your cat was on the road?

I do hope you get the flooding sorted out, it sounds terrible. Keep us updated.

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