Phil Marcus with a photograph of the groundwater seeping through in one of the sediment dam.
Phil Marcus with a photograph of the groundwater seeping through in one of the sediment dam. Ebony Stansfield

WATER WOES: Highway upgrade erodes home owner's dream

FOR many, the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade means faster travel times and less-congested roads. For others such as Tyndale resident Phil Marcus and his wife Penny, all it has brought is stress.

Mr Marcus says that before the construction adjacent to his property began, he questioned Roads and Maritime Services workers whether the location deemed acceptable by designers was the best option because of the existence of underground water.

He claims engineers and road designers from the RMS denied there was any water running under the site.

Sediment dams were constructed behind the property and Mr Marcus says workers dug "a little bit too far" and hit the underground water table.

He says this caused the dam to fill from the bottom, even when it hadn't rained for months, which caused water to flow into his property.

As the property is on a floodplain, Mr Marcus is worried about what will happen when it floods, with the sediment dam quite close to his property.

"Plus when they've cut into the hill here, A lot of this water used to go down through the caravan park, but now it's all directed straight down my property," he says.

Tyndale resident Phil Marcus
Tyndale resident Phil Marcus


Mr Marcus questioned why there was only a one metre culvert for water to flow through at the bottom of the hill at the end of his property, while there are several larger culverts to manage the water flow further up the hill at the highway construction above his property.

The creek on Mr Marcus' property has been heavily eroded since construction, with trees barely holding onto the banks.

"They've taken two or three metres out of the creek since they directed the water through it," he said.

"We didn't cop this much erosion in the creek before."

He suggests a pipe running through his property with capacity to carry a larger volume of water could fix this issue.

"But, I expect this to go on and on," he said.

"What's the reason why they won't do anything about destroying our property?"

RELATED STORY: Phil and Penny Marcus received a rude shock in 2016 when told by RMS their property boundary was out by 3m

An RMS spokesperson said they understood the importance of working closely with property owners to minimise impacts of major road projects.

"RMS is investigating concerns raised by the owner about flow levels and velocity through a natural water course on the property," the spokesperson said.

"RMS has completed an on-site assessment of the existing gully outside of the project boundary to reassess water flow in this area.

"This assessment is in addition to a further review of the hydrological design in this area. An independent hydrologist will review this work.

"Once complete, the project team will meet with the owners to discuss the outcomes."

RMS says it is not aware of any underground water issues which impact either the construction of the highway at this location or adjacent properties.

"Three property condition reports have been completed on the property and shared with the owner and a final report will be carried out when construction is complete.

"A property condition report includes a property structural survey and can help to determine if any damage has occurred to properties since work started.

"Any damage found to be caused by the project is rectified by the project team in consultation with the landowner.

"The project team carries out regular vibration monitoring at the property with no exceedances of the vibration limits ... recorded.