Rivers back, within limits
LISMORE can rest easier going into the annual Northern Rivers flood season - its flood levee repairs are finally complete.
The repair project since damages were sustained in the 2009 flood might be described as a saga.
Local MPs and then Lismore City Council played the saviours, coming through with the cash and a solution that satisfied all parties.
The $2.8 million needed to fund the project was obtained by a united effort from Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin and Lismore MP Thomas George under both federal and state disaster assistance schemes.
But before any work could be done, a number of problems complicated the project.
Council first faced the question of whether to demolish the historic Lismore Club, which Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell used her casting vote to prevent.
Council eventually purchased the building for $600,000 and a heritage application was made to grant council approval to demolish the 1970s extension at the back of the club.
Further complications emerged when privately-owned garages were earmarked to sit outside the new levee wall, forcing council to fund the cost of relocating them.
"It was a bigger job than just moving the walls," Lismore councillor and Richmond River County Council deputy chairman Graham Meineke reflected.
Cr Meineke said the curvature of Leycester Creek upstream concentrated high pressure floodwaters along the section needing reconstruction.
"It was scouring out the bottom of the bank… and that's why this was in danger of collapsing," Cr Meineke said, pointing to the newly stabilised bank.
The base of the bank is now underpinned by 60 concrete piles 12m deep below a brand new footpath.
"This is starting to reorientate Lismore back to the river - it's fabulous when you walk along the edge, with a cool breeze coming off the water," Cr Meineke said.
Cr Meineke said LCC now had a long-term vision to extend the footpath and associated bank stabilisation works.
"The County Council's ideal would be to extend this all the way down to the old rowing club carpark and open up the whole river."