Melbourne Water will upgrade its decades-old Maribyrnong River flood modelling after it failed to predict that a major deluge would hit hundreds of homes until six hours before disaster struck in October last year.
In a 36-page submission, the government-owned water authority did not admit to mistakes but placed some blame for the failure to adequately warn residents in the city’s inner north-west on the Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall forecasts.
Melbourne Water prepared the submission for its own trouble-plagued inquiry into the Maribyrnong River flood – one of 62 submissions it received before the March 17 cut-off and published on Friday on the flood’s six-month anniversary.
The inquiry has been mired in controversy since it was revealed it would not examine several matters, including early warning systems and urban planning.
A parliamentary inquiry was also later established after extensive reporting by The Age, and the Coalition, Greens and crossbenchers teamed up to launch a wider-ranging flood review.
Melbourne Water’s submission shows it has failed to finish an investigation into the development of the Rivervue retirement village in Avondale Heights, where 47 homes unexpectedly flooded in October.
The document also sheds no light on whether the controversial Flemington Racecourse flood wall had an impact on the October 14 disaster, despite its construction having been named as a key focus of its inquiry following widespread community anger.
“A complex hydraulic and hydrologic model would need to be completed,” it reads. “It is usual for modelling of this kind to take at least 12 months.”
Former federal and Victorian Supreme Court judge Tony Pagone, who chaired the royal commission into aged care in 2019, is now leading the inquiry after the review’s first appointed chair, Nick Wimbush, resigned over a perceived conflict of interest following revelations published in The Age in February.