Heritage Victoria grants Barwon Water aqueduct permit

17 Nov 2020

Barwon Water welcomes Heritage Victoria’s decision to grant a permit to remove four of the 14 spans of the heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater.

The important decision means the critical public safety risks posed by the aqueduct can be addressed and safe public access on the river and surrounding land can be opened up, after demolition of the spans has been completed, for the first time in nearly three decades.

Barwon Water managing director Tracey Slatter acknowledged the decision, which came with conditions relating to the management of the remaining structure into the future, and said Barwon Water was looking forward to making the area safe.

“While safety is our highest priority, we understand the significance of this structure and look forward to honouring its story at the site where the remaining 10 spans will continue to be viewed and enjoyed.

“As part of the works, we will develop a Heritage Infrastructure Management Plan, undertake works to stabilise the remaining structure and install vibration monitoring.

“Works will take a number of years and Heritage Victoria will be involved throughout the process.

“We look forward to working with community members and stakeholders on an interpretation plan for the aqueduct which will recognise the historical and architectural significance of the structure, which will also be recorded through photographic archival surveys, and using 3D technology.”

Ms Slatter said this significant project, costing up to $6.5 million, would generate jobs and many other benefits for the region including via opening up public open space, river access and tourism.

She said that after the aqueduct was made safe, Barwon Water planned to progressively open the 66-hectares of surrounding Barwon Water-owned land to the public.

“Along with the aqueduct’s significant European heritage value, the area that it occupies is also significant for the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners who have a connection with the river and surrounds which dates back thousands of years.

“In partnership with Wadawurrung and other stakeholders we will engage broadly to develop a plan that, when implemented, will enable the area to be accessed and enjoyed by the whole community for its high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational values.”


Background

The Barwon River under the aqueduct has been closed to river users due to the safety risks posed by falling concrete from the structure, but work will ensure safe access to the Barwon River and surrounding land in public parkland that will balance heritage values, Aboriginal cultural values and managing costs for Barwon Water customers.

Referred to as Porronggitj Karrong (Place of the Brolga) the cultural and community precinct proposed for the area is intended to be an opportunity to walk, ride, paddle, reflect, and investigate, rediscover, trial, rehabilitate and introduce traditional land and water management practices.

Plans will be developed in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and in consultation with the broader Geelong community.

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