On 22 August 2015, Barwon Water informed our community of their decision to take the Painkalac Reservoir out of service and provide water to Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven from the Geelong supply system via an 11 km pipeline extension from Anglesea. The water treatment plant was to be decommissioned rather than upgraded. The changeover will provide a more secure long-term supply.
Throughout the previous consultation period, which involved three public meetings and numerous consultants reports, AIDA attempted to keep its members informed and sought additional information from Barwon Water. The information was relayed to members via email. We are grateful to a member with extensive hydrology experience (Rory Nathan) for his analysis of the two options for AIDA members.
As of March 2016 work on the $6.6 million connection was well underway, with the 11-kilometre pipeline to Anglesea constructed and pump station upgrade completed over the past six months. The next stage involved decommissioning and removing some treatment systems and infrastructure from the Aireys Inlet water treatment plant.
On May 4th 2016 Barwon Water announced that the water supply upgrade was available for use and that customers in Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven would begin receiving the water, which is sourced from the Barwon system and treated and fluoridated at the Wurdee Boluc Water Treatment Plant, in the week commencing May 9th.
Now that the work has been completed, opportunities for the future use of the reservoir include the potential for enhanced environmental flows in the downstream Painkalac Creek and estuary. This is currently being investigated with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority. An environmental flow determination for Painkalac Creek, conducted in 2008, is being used as the basis for this investigation. A report on the environmental flow determination is available through the following link: http://www.ccmaknowledgebase.vic.gov.au/ kb_resource_details.php?resource_id=2178. Shaun Cumming, Manager Operations Barwon Water, provided an overview of the investigation at the AIDA forum on 9 April 2016. Since then The Painkalac Creek Environmental Flows Community and Agency Group (PCEFCAG) was formed and met for the first time on 28 July 2016. PCEFCAG will act as an advisory body to Barwon Water and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority.
Another opportunity is future recreational use. In an August 2015 press release Barwon Water proposed establishing a community group to investigate opportunities for future public use of the Painkalac Reservoir. Subsequently, it advertised for eight to ten representatives from a range of sectors including residents, businesses, as well as community and environmental groups, to join four Barwon Water members in an advisory group called the Painkalac Reservoir Community and Agency Group (PRCAG). AIDA committee member Gary Johnson was appointed to the Group and attended several meetings during 2015 and 2016 during which it was agreed that recreation in the reservoir should focus on two aspects: (1) low impact uses that engage with the natural beauty of the area and (2) educational/ interpretive opportunities.
As the result of PRCAG’s vision, Barwon Water has now provided Aireys Inlet and district with a new recreation area that when completed will include a shared use track on either side of the reservoir for walking, horse riding and bicycle riding; picnic facilities, a bird watching facility; educational signage at key locations; and opening the reservoir for recreational fishing (this may include stocking subject to a suitability assessment by Fisheries Victoria).