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Echuca resident hints at legal action over makeshift levee that leaves some homes at risk of flooding

An Echuca resident says home owners and insurance policy holders are considering suing authorities over the position of a makeshift levee that has left some homes unprotected.

The Campaspe Shire Council on Tuesday distanced itself from the controversy, while the head of Emergency Management Victoria defended authorities over the building of the levee, which was erected in 48 hours early last week as the flood threat increased.

Authorities say they based its location on flood modelling, which looked at saving as many homes as possible.

The three-metre-high makeshift dirt levee is holding back some of the floodwaters after the town's main levee went under water on Saturday.

The Campaspe Shire Council said Emergency Management Victoria made the decision to build a levee around Echuca — and the council had no say in its location or design.

Echuca resident Bobby Lang, whose property has been inundated, said the position of the levee meant houses in front of it were not protected by flood waters, which are the highest since the 1975 floods.

Mr Lang said authorities had "something massive to answer for" — a view held by a number of residents the ABC spoke to.

"Our insurance companies aren't going to pay our insurance," Mr Lang said.

"There's going to be some legal action they'll take because I can't see them paying our insurance out after this when they've had a man-made levee put in."

Emergency Management Victoria Commissioner Andrew Crisp said he understood the Campaspe Shire Council "was engaged" in meetings about the construction of the levee.

"The placement of the levee was worked through between a number of key stakeholders — whether that be local government, catchment management authority, emergency services," he said.

"Working through what was the right location to erect that particular levee to protect as much of Echuca and some critical assets as it could."

Campaspe Shire Council maintains that it had no employees involved in the multi-agency decision.

It says two consultants were engaged to work on the Echuca-Moama-Torrumbarry Flood Study through a partnership involving the state government, the local Catchment Management Authority, Campaspe Shire Council and Murray River Council. 

Echuca shopkeepers said they were confident the makeshift levee would keep floodwaters away, with some opening on Monday morning.

Donna Rankin works at one of the town's pharmacies and said this year's flood was the largest flood she had seen in half a century.

"We've been through other floods, but I think this is the worst that we've had to prepare for," she said.

"Given the fact that they've put in extra levee banks, and it has divided the town. It's a bit controversial."

Mr Lang was critical of the decision to build the levee.

"I just think they waited too long, and they took the easiest option out — the cheapest option," Mr Lang said.

He said residents who could return to their homes just wanted to try and get back to work and have a bit of normalcy.

The council said it was focused on community recovery and running the town's relief centre but planned to lobby the government in the future for better flood mitigation funding.

Mr Crisp believed the Murray River had peaked at Echuca on Tuesday morning.

He told ABC Melbourne radio he couldn't say why water was being pumped from inside the levee back onto homes outside the levee.

The Victorian State Emergency Service is expecting the river to remain steady for several days.

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