South Australia is set to experience a second higher Murray River flooding peak with authorities saying they now expect 185 gigalitres to flow per day in the second wave in late December.
- SA is expected to have two flood peaks, one in early December and another around Christmas
- The second peak will see between 185 and 220 gigalitres flowing into the Murray River each day
- Those in Greater Adelaide consume 200 gigalitres of water a year
The state government said two peaks are expected, one in early December and another higher peak in late December around Christmas.
While 185 gigalitres is the high probability, there is a moderate chance of 200 gigalitres and a lower probability of 220 gigalitres during the second peak.
Premier Peter Malinauskas said a high probability of 175 gigalitres per day was still expected during the first peak in early December, with the low probability of 220 gigalitres per day falling to 200 gigalitres per day.
“So while there is good news about what we expect in early December, we are certainly on the alert about what will cross the border in late December,” Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas said.
Residents in Greater Adelaide consume around 200 gigalitres of water a year.
“We now face the prospect or one that now crosses the border every single day into the Murray River,” he said.
“It’s a lot of water. It presents a lot of challenges.”
Four kilometers of DefenCell flood barriers were transported to Adelaide from Italy for shipment to Riverland, and more than a million bags of sand were sourced.
Up to 4,000 properties will be flooded
The reinforcements are part of a $4.8 million flood protection package announced Sunday.
However, Malinauksas said up to 4,000 homes would still be inundated during peak flows.
“The combination of many DefenCell products and now over a million sandbags gives us a lot of confidence that where we can make a difference with these materials, we have the capability and ability to do so,” Malinauskas said.
“But to be honest, of course, we can’t protect every house.
“We cannot allow that much water to cross the border and protect every single home, which is why we are still working to have that number of 4,000 properties flooded by these additional flows.”
The government declared a major emergency earlier this week, giving Police Commissioner Grant Stevens additional powers to manage the flood crisis.
SES chief executive Chris Beattie said residents need to act now and look at the interactive maps available on the SES website to see if their property would be inundated.
He said those affected needed to know when they would leave their properties before it was too late.
“This can be brought about by road closures in your area, power outages, leaking sewers, or even when water floods the floor, but it’s important that you determine up front and in advance when you’ll be leaving,” Beattie said. .
He said a levee under construction to protect Renmark Paringa District Hospital has been completed and that there were numerous other levees across the region currently under construction.
Sewage will be cut off from Riverland homes
Nicola Murphy of SA Water told ABC Radio Adelaide that around 150 homes will be disconnected from sewage services by December 9, with another 100 homes facing disconnection.
SA Power Networks warned last week that around 2,000 properties would be disconnected from electricity in the coming weeks, with some homes and shacks already disconnected.
Ms Murphy said SA Water was working with affected residents to find suitable alternatives, including the use of portaloos and field toilets.
“Anything we can do to help those residents we will, and it’s something we’re working on with those people as they make their decisions at the moment whether to stay in their homes or perhaps move out during the time of the flood,” he said.
“What we need to think about is the total capacity of our network to cope with the additional volume of water entering it and our pumping stations to be able to pump it and we are trying to make sure we maintain as many services as possible for as many customers as possible for as long as possible.
“Thus isolating a small part of the network, we’re trying to protect the rest of the network and keep those services running.”
Ms Murphy said SA Water is also working to prevent sewage from entering floodwaters.
Access to health services will be “difficult”
Riverland residents and visitors are also advised to plan ahead for their healthcare needs, with impending road closures.
Australian Medical Association SA president Michelle Atchison said mosquito-borne viruses were also a cause for concern.
“If you have the scripts you need for the next few months, go get them filled out now, if you need a vaccination for your Japanese encephalitis virus, go get it now because health services are going to be stretched in the next few weeks because the people will use them, but they will also be difficult to access,” he said.
“There are a lot of medicines we can do with telehealth, but we can’t give you a virus injection with telehealth, so there are some things you need to start planning now.”
He urged people to stock up on insect repellent before supplies ran low.