Group slams lack of action on infrastructure upgrades

STAWELL - Lake Lonsdale Action Group has hit out at GWMWater and both the state and federal governments, for a lack of action regarding infrastructure upgrades at the storage.

Action Group president, Ray Howard, said despite the Stawell and district community contributing to the completion of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline project, the region has received little or no benefit.

"As with the importance of tourism, when Lake Lonsdale is compared with other significant lakes in the region, it is very obvious that Lake Lonsdale has been not only totally neglected by GWMWater but also Governments," Mr Howard said.

"Many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on other lakes for recreational and tourism purposes such as at Lake Bolac, Greenhill Lake in Ararat, Lake Fyans, Taylors lake and Green Lake at Horsham.

"Nothing has been spent on any infrastructure at Lake Lonsdale. A grant of $42,000 was approved early last year to do repairs for the boatramp carpark. Nothing has happened yet. Why not? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on infrastructure at Taylors Lake, Dock Lake and the Wimmera River at Horsham?

"It is interesting to note both Taylors and Green Lakes are in Minister Delahunty`s electorate, with Green Lake just recently being topped up for recreational purposes, while Lake Lonsdale was being drained.

"Our community also contributed to the construction of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline, so why are we getting no benefit from our contribution?"

Mr Howard also said Wimmera River flows were a concern to the action group, particularly in relation to unregulated flows. He has now called on all levels of government to find a solution.

"In 2012, up until December a total of 54,948 ML of water flowed down the Wimmera River, equalling more than 1000 ML a week," he said.

"Of this 30,804 ML was unregulated flows. Why wasn't this water harvested for future environmental flows?

"In the past water has been harvested into Taylors and Pine Lakes. Of the Regulated (Environmental) Flows, more than 70% came from Lake Lonsdale, while Lake Wartook/McKenzie Creek provided approximately 16% and Taylors Lake just 14% of flows.

"Neither Lake Bellfield's (currently holding 69,240 ML), or Rocklands Reservoir's (currently holding 102,560ML) water was used, while Lake Lonsdale has been drained to hold just 15,730ML of water for use in our prime recreational and tourist period.

"As a condition of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline savings was that environmental flows were made available for the Wimmera River, which we fully support. The overriding problem is that GWMWater decides alone where the water is taken from.

"The Wimmera Catchment Management Authority tells GWMWater when and how much water is to be released for these flows, but has no input into where the water is taken from. It is time now for our water Minister Mr Peter Walsh to intervene and remedy this situation. The system can support water for everyone's needs."

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