Queensland flood victims face sewage crisis

Floodwaters creep into St George. [ABC]
PHOTO

Floodwaters creep into St George. [ABC]

VIDEO from Australia Network News

Damaged weir poses new flood threat

Created: 08/02/2012

Last Updated: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 14:49:00 +1100

A damaged weir and contaminated water pose a new risk for the flood-stricken town of St George in Queensland's southern inland.

While the town has managed to avoid widespread inundation, flooding has damaged the local sewage treatment plant, polluting the floodwaters and posing a major public health risk.

Engineers have also found that Moolabah Weir on the outskirts of town is damaged and could collapse.

Residents had been hoping to begin to return to their homes today, but police say the mandatory evacuation order will remain in place.

Water supplier SunWater says engineers found concrete slabs on the weir spillway were moving late on Tuesday.

An emergency alert has been issued to residents downstream of the weir, warning there could be a sudden flood surge.

The Balonne River has reached 13.93 metres at St George and is still rising slowly to a predicted peak of around 14 metres.

The temporary levee is still protecting the town.

Balonne Shire Mayor Donna Stewart says the residents' safety must come first, and they cannot return to their homes until the sewage treatment plant is up and running.

"Unfortunately until the floodwater recedes we can't allow people back into the town for obvious health reasons," she said.

"There is about 25 per cent of the town has not got a sewerage service and that is due to the fact that the floodwater has gone over the top of our pumping system down that end of the town.

Just under 100 police and emergency service workers remain in St George, keeping homes and businesses secure.

There had been fears the entire town would be inundated after floodwaters were predicted to peak at 15 metres, half a metre above the makeshift levee protecting the town.

However waters are not expected to go higher than 14 metres, and will begin to recede over the coming days, with damage restricted to 50 homes outside the levee.

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