Lake Lonsdale levels causing concern

CONCERNS have been raised about the ailing water level in Lake Lonsdale heading into the final weeks of winter.

Concerns have been raised that Lake Lonsdale isn't being allowed to fill.

Concerns have been raised that Lake Lonsdale isn't being allowed to fill.

Residents living near the lake are concerned about the lack of water flowing into Lonsdale, despite significant rainfall in recent weeks.

The fear is, the level will not reach above 20 percent of capacity by the end of winter and if there are no significant inflows during spring, then the likelihood of Lonsdale going dry in the summer is real.

Lonsdale is currently at just 14 percent of capacity.

One neighbouring resident said she had real fears that Lonsdale would be forgotten in the lead up to sumer.

"We have had a lot of rain in the past few weeks and yet, Lonsdale is not filling up," she said.

"There has to be a reason why the lake isn't filling, because water should be running off at a rapid rate following the rainfall. I think GWM Water must be diverting the water again."

The resident said there had been some significant developments at Lonsdale in the past 12 months, but they all seemed pointless if the lake wasn't holding any water.

"If the authorities are not going to let the lake fill now, it definitely won't fill in time for summer. There will be no hope of that," she said.

"I would question why the new boat ramp was put in and why the authorities have been clearing all the dead trees out of the lake. They've been piled up ready to be burnt.

"Why bother cleaning them up if there isn't going to be any water in the lake?"

More than 12 millimetres of rain fell in Stawell during the second last week of July and continued to fall last week.

A total of 47 millimetres fell at the same time on Mt William in the Grampians and this was followed by a massive downpour last Wednesday of 31.8mm. This was the highest single recording at Mt William for the month and lifted the monthly rainfall total for July to 230.2mm.

However, while water continues to flow freely through Mt William Creek, there has been no significant rise in the water level at Lake Lonsdale.

At present, the lake is holding just 7234 megalitres, slightly less than at the same time last year when it was at 15% of capacity.

Records show Lake Lonsdale hasn't always been in such a predicament. When readings were taken on July 27, 2011, the lake held 49,760 megalitres in storage, which was 76% of capacity. This was after the lake peaked at 70,210 megalitres in January that year.

In January 2012, Lonsdale held 41,515 megalitres in storage, but this quickly dropped by the end of July that year to 25,640 megalitres.

Lonsdale's peak for last year was 16,140 megalitres (30% of capacity) which was reached on October 30.

GWMWater Acting Managing Director, Andrew Rose, said the lake had actually risen due to the rainfall, but that environmental releases were also being made at the same time.

"Current environmental releases from Lonsdale are five megalitres per day," Mr Rose said.

"This has been reasonably consistent for most of 2014 apart from the occasional 'flush'. Presently, these releases are being made in accordance with our obligations under the environmental entitlement regarding passing flows, which are applicable between June to November inclusive. We are also releasing three megalitres per day from Taylors Lake."

Mr Rose said in relation to the 'bigger picture', the total volume of environmental flows released from GWM Water headworks between July 1, 2013 and May 28, 2014 has been 17,820 megalitres from the Wimmera catchment headworks and 20,610 megalitres from the Glenelg Catchment headworks (Rocklands).

He said 11,000 megalitres of this has been released from Taylor's Lake and 1660 megalitres from Lake Lonsdale.

"Releases from Taylor's Lake have supported the majority of environmental flows to the Wimmera River this season due to the low level of Lake Lonsdale," Mr Rose said.

"In years where Lake Lonsdale is at a higher storage level, environmental water managers may choose to request that more water be released from Lake Lonsdale instead of Taylor's Lake to benefit the health of Mt William Creek on its way to the Wimmera River.

Lake Bellfield is the main supply for a large portion of the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline System, and is a backup to the supply of Stawell, Ararat and Great Western from Lake Fyans.

"Due to these reasons, environmental water is not directly released from Lake Bellfield, with environmental water for Mt William Creek and the Wimmera River being sourced from Lake Lonsdale and Taylors Lake."

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