Barwon Water progresses aqueduct plans

Barwon Water is forming a community reference group as part of work to improve the safety of its heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater, and open up public access to the Barwon River and 66 hectares of surrounding land.

The project will create a new cultural, recreational and community precinct in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said the precinct, called Porronggitj Karrong (place of the Brolga), will acknowledge Aboriginal culture and heritage alongside the European heritage values of the aqueduct structure.

“The community reference group will provide advice and support the development of the precinct, which will not only be valued and enjoyed by the people of the Geelong but also by visitors to the region.

“Our aspirations are high. We see possibilities for Porronggitj Karrong to be a drawcard for the region and a source of pride in the community. We see the project being a major contributor to the economic, cultural, social and recreational prosperity of our region.

Ms Slatter said Porronggitj Karrong was a key action in Barwon Water’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

“Through the partnership with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, it is an opportunity to rediscover, trial and introduce traditional land and water management practices to restore the environment.”

The community reference group will also contribute to the creation of the new cultural and community precinct and provide input into the development of the Heritage Interpretation Plan for the aqueduct.

“The Heritage Interpretation Plan will recognise the historical and architectural significance of the structure, including recording through photographic archival surveys, and using 3D technology,” Ms Slatter said.

In November last year, Heritage Victoria granted Barwon Water a permit to remove 4 of the 14 spans of the aqueduct to improve safety and enable access to be opened up to the Barwon River and the surrounding land. The permit came with conditions to protect and conserve the remaining structure.

Ms Slatter welcomed expressions of interest from the public in joining the community reference group, which she described as an important part of the Porronggitj Karrong and aqueduct project.

She said the group would be an information-sharing forum on the coordinated delivery of the works. It will provide a regular, scheduled opportunity for dialogue between community members, key interest groups and the project team.

“I’m very pleased to say the reference group will be co-chaired by Barwon Water and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

“We hope it will include representatives from community members and organisations with particular interests in the aqueduct, and restoring the environment. The whole community will enjoy the site’s high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational qualities.”

To express an interest in the community reference group, visit www.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/pk-aqueduct

Expressions of interest close on 17 September 2021.

Contractor appointed for aqueduct works

Ms Slatter said work to stabilise the aqueduct and safely remove the four spans was progressing well with a preferred contractor – McMahon Services – engaged for the early works.

“As part of the aqueduct works, the permit requires the development of a comprehensive recording program of the structure, a Heritage Infrastructure Management Plan, Heritage Interpretation Plan and structural propping works to be undertaken to stabilise the remaining structure.

“McMahon Services is now working with our engineers on geotechnical work and construction methodology for the propping of the aqueduct.”

Ms Slatter reminded community members that the land and river around the aqueduct remain off limits due to safety risks, including the risk of concrete falling from the aqueduct.

“We plan, subject to weather and river conditions and the very complex nature of the work, to finish stabilisation of the structure by 2022-23 and removal of the four spans by 2023-24.

“We anticipate that parts of the site, including the river, will open progressively to the public between 2023 and 2025. We will keep the community updated on timeframes as the project progresses.”

Stay up to date

Interested parties who would like to receive updates on the Porronggitj Karrong and aqueduct project, including further opportunities to have a say on the use of the area in the future, can register by emailing projects@barwonwater.vic.gov.au

For more information on the Heritage Victoria permit decision, visit https://www.heritage.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/510445/Question-and-Answers.pdf

Image credit: Thanks to Craig Morley of the Geelong Field Naturalists for this beautiful photograph of Brolgas. It was taken at Reedy Lake, close to Porronggitj Karrong.

Categories: Brolga, Porronggitj Karrong, Aqueduct, Geelong, Latest News
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