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Construction has begun on the $25.6 million Vasse Diversion Drain upgrade in Busselton, Western Australia, which will improve flood mitigation for the town during significant rainfall events.

Water Corporation’s upgrade includes widening 5.5km of the drain and reconstructing dam structures to increase the drain’s capacity and improve the structural integrity of the banks, which were originally constructed in the 1920s.

Once completed, the drain will be able to safely convey larger volumes of water during heavy rainfall events, protecting residential properties and the surrounding environment from the risk of flooding.

Vasse Joint Venture, an arrangement between Westforce Construction and JWI Contractors, will undertake the work on behalf of the Water Corporation, which is expected to create more than 70 local jobs during the project and employ two Aboriginal subcontracting firms in the South-West.

Several specialists, including world-renowned restoration ecologist Professor Kingsley Dixon and local environmental groups, have assisted Water Corporation and the Department of Water and Environmental Protection to prepare for the upgrade, helping to develop an extensive $3 million revegetation plan.

As part of this plan, more than 130,000 seedlings will be planted across 10 hectares of the surrounding area to improve diversity in the local ecosystem. 

Approximately 35 fauna shelters and 15 rope bridges for western ringtail possums have also been installed and will soon be accompanied by educational signage.

Earlier in November, not-for-profit organisation OzFish assisted Water Corporation contractor Indo-Pacific Environmental with the relocation of more than 35,000 protected Carter’s freshwater mussels found in the drain.

Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “Climate change is having a real impact in WA. 

“While the South West is typically receiving less rainfall as a result of climate change, unpredictable weather events causing heavy rainfall can increase the risk of flooding in low-lying areas such as Busselton.

“This project is not only improving flood mitigation for the town, it’s supporting local jobs and boosting the economy in the South West, which is especially important as WA continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. 

“It’s great to also see so many local people, passionate about the environment, contributing their time and expertise to this project.”

South West Region MLC, Sally Talbot, said, “When the drain was constructed in the 1920s, its purpose was to create additional farmland. 

“Now Busselton relies on this drain for flood protection, so it needs to be re-engineered.

“I commend Water Corporation for taking this collaborative approach and look forward to seeing the project and revegetation plan come to life.”

Completion of the upgrade is expected by July 2021. 

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