The Andrews Labor Government is protecting the health of Otway waterways by ensuring Barwon Water repair the environmental impacts of past groundwater extraction in the region.
Minister for Water Lisa Neville has intervened through Southern Rural Water (SRW) to request a legally enforceable remediation plan, under Section 78 of the Water Act, to improve and protect the health of key waterways in the Otways.
Ms Neville said she was also requesting extra work to determine whether any further extraction is sustainable. This is in addition to the normal assessment process.
The announcement – which affects waterways such as the Big Swamp, Boundary Creek and Barwon River (between Boundary Creek and Winchelsea) and important groundwater reserves – includes the following directions to SRW:
- That Barwon Water prepare a thorough remediation plan, given findings that past groundwater extraction have affected pH conditions in Boundary Creek
- That in addition to the normal assessment process, SRW establish an independent technical review panel to asses Barwon Water’s groundwater extraction license renewal application
- That SRW work with DELWP to determine whether a change to the overall permissible consumptive volume for the Gerangamete Groundwater Management Area should be reduced
- That Barwon Water discontinue any extraction activities, other than for maintenance and emergency response purposes, while the assessment is being completed and until all remediation work dictated under the remediation plan has been completed.
While groundwater extraction to supplement supply hasn’t been undertaken in the borefield in two years, the environmental impact from past extraction means there needs to be a change in approach.
In addition, SRW will create a community reference group to provide input into the groundwater license renewal assessment process and a forum for issues to be raised in a formal manner.
People who wish to register interest to take part in the community reference group can contact Southern Rural Water on 1300 139 510.
The Labor Government has already invested in large-scale infrastructure projects such as the desalination plant, the Melbourne-Geelong pipeline and Anglesea borefield – which now means Geelong’s water supply is future-proofed, more secure than ever before and less reliant on groundwater.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“Maintaining the health of these vital waterways is vital for both the Geelong community and local environment.”
“I’ve placed strict requirements on Barwon Water’s licence renewal process and I expect them to be complied with.”
“I will ensure the health of our local waterways is prioritised, and that locals are kept well-informed on the development of the remediation plan.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020