Clear run for Otway waterway remediation

News

Barwon Water has withdrawn a groundwater extraction licence application for the Otways while work continues on a remediation plan to repair the environmental impacts of past extraction in the region.

Barwon Water's decision was welcomed today (14 March 2019) by Water Minister Lisa Neville.

In 2018 Minister Neville requested a legally enforceable remediation plan to improve and protect the health of key waterways in the Otways and directed that no further extraction occur until remediation was complete.

Barwon Water is understood to have taken the decision to remove any confusion caused by having an extraction licence application pending while work to deliver the remediation plan continues.

The decision means there will also be no application to renew Barwon Water’s licence to extract water for urban supply.

Work on the remediation plan is already underway, with input from community members, stakeholders and independent technical experts.

The Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation community and stakeholder working group will continue to play a central role in developing the remediation plan.

The group is made up of representatives from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA), Colac Otway Shire Council, LAWROC, PALM (People for a Living Moorabool), Upper Barwon Landcare Group, Boundary Creek landowners, Traditional Owners and other interested community members.

Last year Minister Neville also directed a review of the permissible consumptive volume (PCV) for the area – the amount of groundwater that can be extracted - to determine if a change should be made. The review will recommend setting the PCV at a level that protects of the Gerangamete groundwater resource.

The Victorian Government’s investment in large-scale infrastructure projects such as the desalination plant, the Melbourne-Geelong pipeline and the Anglesea borefield now means Geelong’s water supply is more secure than ever before and less reliant on groundwater.

“While Geelong’s water storages are extremely low right now, we do not need to extract water from the Barwon Downs borefield, thanks to projects like the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline,” Ms Neville said.

“Withdrawing the licence application is a common-sense move that will mean everyone’s focus is on the critically important rehabilitation work that needs to happen in the area before we can even consider further extraction.”

Source: Based on a state government media release