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This enews has been created to provide interested community members with updates about the Upper Barwon River, including river health projects being planned and delivered, environmental water, new research and studies, and other information relating to river health. To subscribe to receive these updates please visit the CCMA website

West Barwon Reservoir Spilling, downstream flooding and river health community meeting

Late last week (30 July), the Corangamite CMA, Barwon Water, Department of Transport and Colac Otway Shire met with 46 community members online to discuss localised flooding impacts, including road closures, associated with the recent wet weather. 

At this stage the current weather and land conditions mean it is too wet to put machinery in place to commence remediation of the closed section of the Birregurra – Forrest Road and removal of key restriction points on the West Barwon river.  Corangamite CMA and Department of Transport advised that work will commence as soon as practicable The meeting also saw a number of community queries discussed with regards to:

  • timing of Birregurra – Forrest Road opening and ongoing detours / diversions
  • stabilisation of the road
  • biodiversity, fish and fauna studies
  • overall health of the river
  • operation of the West Barwon Reservoir

All agencies are continuing to work together and both the Corangamite CMA and Department of Transport will continue to share updates on the road repairs and river management over the coming weeks and months.

Both the Corangamite CMA and Department of Transport have established project pages to help provide further information to the community. Reservoir levels are also regularly updated on the Barwon Water website.

We’d encourage you to share these links with anyone in your community that may be interested and to also sign up to this enews to receive ongoing updates.

To stay informed of Upper Barwon River Health Improvement Works please visit the Corangamite CMA website
 

To stay informed on progress to reopen Birregurra-Forrest Road please visit the Regional Roads Victoria website

Steps the Corangamite CMA are taking to alleviate flooding impacts on Birregurra-Forrest Road


The Corangamite CMA has commissioned expert engineers to conduct a site's risk assessment and provide advice on alleviating localised flooding and protecting the road from inundation. 

The Upper Barwon River is a highly modified system with the construction of the West Barwon Reservoir, extensive clearing of native plants, the introduction of agriculture, variable climate conditions, and infestations of introduced species such as Glyceria and willow. Consequently, there are many factors at play, and there is no simple solution to mitigate the impacts of changed flow conditions.

Based on expert advice, the preferred short-term option to alleviate localised flooding of the Birregurra- Forrest Road, is to remove a localised blockage point downstream, judicious clearing of Glyceria upstream and downstream, and fixing two minor breakout points.

The clearing of Glyceria (an aggressive aquatic pest plant) will assist in controlling and directing flows down the main channel, and away from the road 

Removal of the Glyceria, and fixing minor breakout points, will require mechanical works and will need to be carried out under suitable and safe conditions for heavy machine access. 

Due to the extensive floodplain inundation and forecast wet season, works will likely be delayed until the floodplain dries out sufficiently and it is safe to access the site. 

The Corangamite CMA is working with technical experts to finalise the risk assessment and have commenced an extensive planning and approvals process. The CMA has also commenced discussions with landholders; their input will be critical in determining the long-term actions to be taken. 

The Corangamite CMA is actively working with all agencies to best manage the river's short term and long-term health. The number one priority is reaching a mutually beneficial outcome for the community and biodiversity values of the river. 
 

Biodiversity in the Upper Barwon River


The local community has raised concerns about a decline in biodiversity in the Upper Barwon River, and in particular eels. 

The Upper Barwon River is a highly modified system with the construction of the West Barwon Reservoir, extensive clearing of native plants, the introduction of agriculture, variable climate conditions, and infestations of introduced species such as Glyceria and willow. All of these factors have an impact on biodiversity.

Historical developments (weirs, barrages, dams and roads) throughout the system impact fish migration both up and down stream. The Corangamite CMA has mapped instream barriers in the Moorabool and Barwon Rivers, and is committed to working to improve fish passage. Recent infrastructure upgrades to the Lower Barwon Barrage, saw the installation of a world class three passage fishway, including an elver ramp to allow free passage of young migrating eels

On the issue of eels in the Upper Barwon River, the Corangamite CMA has commenced work with the Arthur Rylah Institute to better understand the current situation. The CMA will provide an update to the community on eel presence and movement in the Upper Barwon River. 

Birregurra-Forrest Road

 
To stay informed on progress to reopen Birregurra-Forrest Road please visit the Regional Roads Victoria website.
 
https://regionalroads.vic.gov.au/map/barwon-south-west-improvements/birregurra-forrest-road-closure-between-forrest-and-barwon-downs
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