Work underway to reduce the risk of future flooding at critical power sites

16 December, 2022

Permanent levees are being built at two critical power infrastructure sites in Victoria’s north and central region as part of Powercor’s major program of work to reduce the risk of flooding affecting electricity supplies.

Powercor crews have begun constructing a two-metre-high permanent levee around Castlemaine Zone Substation. Work is expected to be completed by early February, 2023.

It will be built on land just outside the zone substation site, near Campbells Creek. Powercor has been working closely with Dja Dja Wurrung traditional owners, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Mount Alexander Shire Council to fast-track the work.

Work is also progressing on the construction of a two-metre-high levee around Mooroopna Zone substation.

The levees, made from compacted soil and covered with grass to integrate into their natural surrounds, are being built to withstand one-in-200-year flood levels.

Temporary flood mitigation measures, including sandbagging, will remain in place at various sites through December and January, with the La Nina weather pattern remaining across the state.

With Victoria’s weather becoming more unstable, Powercor is also examining other longer-term engineering solutions, such as raising critical equipment and control rooms, at other sites across the network.

Powercor’s Head of Major Projects, Marcus Olive said the combination of short and long-term measures were designed to build more resilience in the power network and reduce the likelihood of flood waters impacting zone substations and causing power outages for communities in the future.

“Our weather is changing and as we experience more extreme events like the recent floods, it’s critical we are building more resilient power infrastructure to withstand as much as possible the impacts of these events,” Mr Olive said.

In October, Powercor de-energised the Mooroopna and Castlemaine zone substations after rising water from nearby rivers and creeks breached the temporary levees and flooded the sites. By turning off the substations, Powercor was able to minimise the safety risk to the community and reduce the potential for long-term damage.

“Leading up to the floods, we took proactive steps to protect critical power assets in regions at risk of flooding. These steps included building temporary levees, sandbagging, raising equipment and using pumps to keep water out of critical major sites,” Mr Olive said.

“Since then, we have conducted further work to reinforce these measures, including raising the height of some of the levees, to strengthen them against further flooding. These temporary structures will remain in place over coming months as we plan and implement medium to long-term flood reduction measures.”

Castlemaine and Mooroopna zone substations were built by the SEC in the 1960s, according to records.

“Critical power infrastructure such as these zone substations are built in the areas that local communities need them most. As our weather patterns change, flood levels are continuing to hit new peaks which is why the work we are doing now is so critical,” Mr Olive said.

The Castlemaine Zone Substation supplies 12,364 customers across Maldon, Newstead, Elphinstone, Harcourt, Campbells Creek, Drummond and surrounding areas, while Mooroopna zone substation supplies about 10,688 homes and businesses in the Mooroopna, Tatura, Ardmona, parts of Shepparton, Kialla, Haston, Murchison, Dhurringile, Rushworth and surrounding towns.