The following information is a list of topics to think about and implement in preparation for a flood event that may impact your water pump infrastructure.

This list was originally developed for diverters on the Murray river system in North West Victoria by Flood Recovery Coordinators in Agriculture Victoria, and may be of some assistance for irrigators across Victoria.

On this page:

List for managing pumps

Video interview: Flood recovery - managing floods and pump

Useful links

List for managing pumps

Video: Flood recovery - managing floods and pumps

Braam Conje, Agriculture Recovery Officer from Agriculture Victoria, interviews Jonathon Macklin, Irrigation & Development Manager from Tumut Grove Citrus farm - Fresh Produce Group, about managing floods and pumps after the 2022-2023 floods in northern Victoria

Flood recovery - managing floods and pumps: Grower interview on 2022-2023 floods
Video transcript:

Hi, my name is Braam Cronje. I'm the Agriculture Recovery Officer from Agriculture Victoria situated in northwest Victoria. This interview I did with Jonathon Macklin from Tumut Grove Farm that was affected by the 2022 2023 flood event. We discussed the impacts of the floods and managing the river pumps.

During 2022 2023 flood, what did you learn in, in regards to managing the river pumps? Yeah, a lot. So the river was about this high and we knew it was going to come to the 56 flood level, so we measured from the river up, and we, up to the 9. 1 metres, and we knew our pumps were going to be safe, but if it come any higher, we had to do a risk assessment, and we were going to get a barge in and pull our pumps off before they went underwater, so a lot of pumps would have went underwater if it had come higher, and we don't want to wait six months for a new motor. We knew we had a bit of clearance, so we left both on. Luckily, we did, cos when it was flood, when it was up at the highest level, one of our pumps stopped. So it was good that we left two on, or we would have had no water. So we would have had to get a diesel pump in, somehow mount it on a barge so we can keep the dams full. That was good to have them both on.

Where did you get your information from off the river height and working out when you need to pull your pumps up and when not to?

Off the MDBA website. Yeah, okay.

I'm looking at the heights. There was no flows at that time. They couldn't prodict it, but just keep an eye on them heights and visuals as well. Did you ever think about like a backup electricity supply?

Well, if the power poles were in the water, if they fell over, we would have had to go to the diesel pumps.

Yeah, OK. Yeah, on a barge. How did you access the rubber pumps during the flood? Yeah, so we had to do another risk assessment, and this pump site, we could, we sandbagged just on the other side so we could actually drive in at the start and then at the end we had the boat in. That was our safest option and walking in, we come a different route. We stayed away from the power poles.

How did you, in regard to the flood, understand the flood patterns? Was there sort of like patterns you could follow? On the MDBA website, I could see upstream and see what flows were coming down the Wakool Junction and then all the rivers linking up there. So we, we can see it coming and then our neighbours are right into this, the river. So a lot of going to see them. So there was a fair bit of community collaboration going on. Alot. Everyone was talking here about it, and how we could help each other. Yeah, I guess that was quite important. Yes, absolutely.

Did you have to do any pre flood evaluations to see if the pumps were secure? Or did you do some post evaluation as well, just to make sure things is working as they should and safe?

Yep, we knew our pumps were, well, we knew our pumps were reliable, they were going to do the job, but we did have that one that, that stopped working, we had the electrician come down and have a look and he said he can't help ya, yep, we've got to pull it off, but yeah, just keep the grease up to them and just make sure they were going good.

Yeah, okay. Yeah. Did you have some, some post flood damage on any pumps or any suction pipes? A lot of debris in the river. Yeah, okay. Once the water dropped, we've had to clean our foot valves out. Leaves, logs, logs are all around the pump site. A lot of leaves, gum nuts just sucked up onto the screen of the foot valve.

Lucky we got through the flood. We knew our flows were down, we knew our foot valves were blocked or getting blocked. We couldn't get in there to clean it, it was too deep down. So what would you do in regard to the next flood event? Different?

Different? Yeah. We'd look at our foot valves. Yeah, okay. Yep. And see if we can get self cleaning ones. Yeah, okay. We're looking into that now, actually. Yeah, right. The river screens, they are self cleaning foot valve. We'd have to keep an eye on the flows again. See how high it was actually going to come the next one. Yeah. Well, how are we doing now? But we're still unsure of how much rain's coming in the snow. It looks like it's coming up. Oh, it is coming up. But we might pull the pump off. So we've got a spare. Yep. So if one does come, break, we can always barge it in and put it on. After the flood, we've had rebuilt all our pumps on the rivers, on the river. Yep. All new bearings. We've checked out the pumps, the wear seal, or the wear plates and the impellers, the impellers. So all motors, all pumps are fresh on the river for this, if it floods again. So we'd have a look at the, the river screen filters and make sure our foot valves are perfect and they are freshly rebuilt and auto start on the pumps. We wouldn't have to come down to the river. So we could just, we could just... We just start it on our phone, wouldn't have to boat down, wouldn't even have to come down to the river. Just to, just monitor the river height on your phone, or your computer, and to the right, we've got we can get the river up to 9.15m and then our pumps will go under. So, we just monitor it, like that. Yeah, okay. Yep. Yeah, that's a really good idea. Very safe. What's the the screen filters? Is this like, on the foot valve?

Yes, yep. The suction comes out of the river and, and it's sort of like, is it like a spinning thing that cleans it? Yep, so they're like a floating foot valve and it's got a screen that spins around and water jets on it. Yeah, okay. So it just self cleans itself.

Useful links:

Bureau of Meteorology

Murray Darling Basin Authority

Southern Rural Water

Goulburn-Murray Water

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority

Melbourne Water

This publications may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its officers do not guarantee that these publications are without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in these publications.