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    TEAMWORK: Pelicans work together while hunting fish in the Wimmera. Pelicans and other wildlife regularly visit Horsham district lakes such as Green and Toolondo and are among reasons why a group is lobbying for more recreational and environmental water allocations. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
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    A flock of pelicans on the Wimmera River in Horsham.
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    A flock of pelicans on the Wimmera River in Horsham.

Wimmera lakes water momentum gathers

A group representing the interests of clubs and individuals calling for a greater allocation of recreational and environmental water for Horsham district lakes is exploring its next course of action.

About 40 people attended a public meeting at Horsham Showground to generate support for a push for greater regularity for Green, Toolondo and Natimuk lakes to receive water.

Horsham Yacht Club, in the process of rebranding itself as Green Lake Water Sports Club, organised the meeting.

Event spokesman and club member Justin Brilliant said the next step was to gain a concise picture of issues and opportunities surrounding recreation supply and to then call participants back for another meeting.

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“The thought is that in working through the processes in place at the moment, this issue will ultimately end up with the Victorian Water Minister,” he said.

Mr Brilliant said representatives from various clubs, organisations and government agencies joined individuals at the meeting, which provided an open-dialogue format for people to speak and have their say.

He said there was a general understanding of the finite aspects of water storage and supply but there were also issues that people quickly identified as unfair.

“The fact that the Glenelg catchment is entitled to high percentages of environmental flows via the Glenelg River, which ultimately end up in the sea, was the most glaring,” he said.

“The Glenelg catchment didn’t contribute to the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline that resulted in considerable water savings. Yet it experiences most of the environmental benefits. 

“To the start of March, the Glenelg had received, including passing flows last winter and releases, more than 8000 megalitres. 

“That’s more than all the recreation water that’s gone north and that is surely a concern.

“There seems to be a significant imbalance in not only water rights but also appropriateness in regional supply.

“All Wimmera-Mallee people are paying a recreation-water surcharge. Yet while we’re maintaining the system we’re not getting the recreational or critically, environmental, water we’re paying for. Instead, it is going somewhere that is getting it free of charge.”

A flock of pelicans on the Wimmera River in Horsham.

Mr Brilliant said a connective and key issue identified during the meeting was water-level trigger points required for the release of water from Rocklands Reservoir to Horsham district lakes.

“With so much water going down the Glenelg River it is always going to be hard to reach trigger levels,” he said.

“The reality is that if Green Lake could have received 1500 of the 8000 megalitres that has gone down the Glenelg, then both would benefit.”

Mr Brilliant said people also discussed issues about the difficulty of watering Natimuk Lake, now restricted from natural overland supply because of landscape changes such as efficient conservation farming methods, and the prospects of returning water-skiing to the Wimmera River in Horsham.

“What we need to do now is simply explore what is the most appropriate course of action and bring it back to another meeting in about a month’s time,” he said.


EDITORIAL: Water a must for quality of life

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