Barwon Water and Fisheries Victoria have joined forces to stock the Painkalac Reservoir with 7000 native estuary perch fingerlings, which will grow up to be a drawcard for recreational anglers. The Reservoir previously supplied Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven with drinking water, but was taken out of service when the townships were connected to the Geelong water supply system in May 2016. (From The Echo 16 December 2017).
Update April 2017: Community celebrates the official opening of the Painkalac Reservoir for recreational use. Barwon Water held a public event on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017, inviting participants to meet at the Distillery Creek picnic area for a group walk-in along the 3-kilometre track to the Reservoir. A minibus ran to and from the site for those not be able to complete the walk. A light lunch was provided, however participants were asked to bring a bottle of water as drinking water is not available at the reservoir.
The reservoir, near Aireys Inlet, is now open to the public for walking, bird watching and recreational fishing.
It was taken out of service when the townships of Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven were connected to the Geelong supply system via a pipeline from Anglesea in May, 2016.
Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said before the opening that the corporation was keen to share the natural beauty of the site with the community.
“Upgrades have been made to tracks on either side of the reservoir, improving access for walking, horse riding and bicycle riding,” Ms Slatter said.
“Facilities such as picnic tables and interpretive signage will make the space both functional and educational for visitors.
“We are looking forward to showcasing the reservoir and highlighting the recreational opportunities available.”
March 2016: Aireys Inlet and district has 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).
So how did it come about? Once it became obvious that the existing water treatment plant was going to be replaced by a pipeline bringing water from Anglesea, AIDA and the wider community started exploring the idea that the Painkalac Reservoir could provide additional recreation for residents and visitors. This idea was also raised on a number of occasions at Barwon Water’s community open days.
As part of the project, Barwon Water established a community and agency group to identify community ideas on potential future uses of the reservoir. They sought expressions of interest from local individuals and organisations to join a committee along with relevant agencies. All who applied – including AIDA committee member Gary Johnson – were accepted, making a diverse committee.
The first task was to develop a vision. 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. Ten potential uses were considered to fit this vision. They were then tested against a number of criteria including cost, public safety, fire risk and environmental impacts. The result was the list of activities in the first paragraph of this article. The committee also recommended that Barwon Water in the future consider seeking funding to: (1) create a loop around the reservoir by building a bridge to span the upper Painkalac Creek where it enters the reservoir, and (2) develop an educational app for the area. The rollout of these activities will depend on how heavily the reservoir is used. People counters will be installed to track the number of visitors to the reservoir.
Some activities were rejected:
- camping because there will be no toilet facilities, no potable water and because of bush fire risk;
- swimming because the spillway, when overflowing, constitutes a significant hazard;
- boating because there is no public road access to bring in boats and because of the spillway hazard. Most visitors will access the area by walking from Distillery Creek Picnic Ground.
Residents have visited parts of the beautiful area around the reservoir for quite some time. Barwon Water, who will continue to manage the dam and reservoir into the future, are providing Aireys Inlet and district even more options for enjoying walking and the natural environment. New facilities are expected to be in place by mid to late 2016.