What is planned for the site?
The former Bellarine water basin has been set aside for new public open space.
The first phase of the project focuses on rehabilitating the site and restoring the natural headwaters of Yarram Creek. This will include removing the old water basin, associated infrastructure, the pine plantation and security fencing.
Phase two involves working with our Traditional Owners, key stakeholders and the local community to inform a masterplan for the site.
The aim of this project is to protect and enhance the unique habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity of the Bellarine, including native vegetation and native fauna.
This project supports key actions in the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria plan and Barwon Water’s Strategy 2030, by opening up government land for public use and recreational purposes.
What style of ‘open space’ will the area be? What activities will be permitted?
The long term land use plan for the site is yet to be determined. We will engage with our Traditional Owners, key stakeholders and the community to inform a plan for the site following the site rehabilitation works, including determining what activities will be permitted.
Is Barwon Water considering any commercial opportunities?
We will explore opportunities to help offset ongoing costs for the site. This will be limited to initiatives that are compatible with a public open space that supports the aim of enhancing ecological values and attracting visitors (such as bush camping, education centre, a fish farm – which will be explored as part of the community consultation.
Will there be any residential or wider commercial development at the site?
No, this would not be supported. The former Bellarine Basin site has been set aside for new public open space. Residential and wider commercial development is not aligned with planning objectives for the Bellarine.
The aim of this project is to protect and enhance the unique habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity of the Bellarine, including native vegetation and fauna.
Any buildings or infrastructure proposed during the masterplan design phase would need to reflect these objectives – for example, an education centre, public toilets or camping facilities may be considered as part of the mix. This will be determined with the community, as part of the consultation phase.
Why do we need to remove the pine trees?
The pine trees are 30 years old and near the end of their life.
Tree harvesting will enable us to rehabilitate and revegetate the site with Indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses. This will also allow the natural headwaters of Yarram Creek to be restored.
What will the trees be used for?
Sustainable reuse is important to us, and the harvested pines will be processed locally for pine sleepers, fence rails and garden mulch.
How is Barwon Water protecting native flora and fauna?
Protecting the environment and native wildlife is a priority. Barwon Water has conducted detailed ecological assessments to ensure native flora and fauna is protected during the tree harvesting and site rehabilitation. This includes vegetation and wildlife ecology assessments, with a focus on frog and avian wildlife surveys. We will also monitor and adjust the scope of works to accommodate wildlife during harvesting works.
Flora and fauna assessments have identified a small number of active and inactive avian nesting sites. Where identified these trees and a buffer area will be maintained. Various methods of tree harvesting were considered and the one with the least environmental impact was selected.
During harvesting, tree stumps will be left in the ground to be less disruptive to the soil and existing native vegetation. Patches of pine trees will be retained in the short term to complement native vegetation and provide wildlife habitats until native vegetation is established across the site.
The existing wetland area will be protected, and waterway health will be at the centre of design work that will see the natural alignment of Yarram Creek restored.
What is the history of the site?
Located on the corner of Grubb and Swan Bay Roads in Wallington, the open-air Bellarine Basin was the main balancing storage for drinking water for customers across the Bellarine Peninsula.
It was used from the 1930s until it was decommissioned in 2011 following supply system upgrades that meant it was no longer required for operational purposes.
It is also not required for expanding recycled water schemes on the Bellarine as these can be extended by augmenting our Portarlington Water Reclamation Plan and extensive pipe network.
What is the environmental and cultural significance of the site?
The Bellarine Basin site was formed over the headwaters of Yarram Creek. As a designated waterway, this is a declared significant area on Wadawurrung Country.
We’re working to restore the historic course of the creek and will work with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners to explore and document the values of the site, to be realised in the long term renewal of this place.
Could the centrally located basin be used as part of a recycled water scheme for the Bellarine Peninsula?
We’re working on a recycled water scheme for Bellarine agricultural water users based around the Portarlington water reclamation plant in the north of the peninsula. The scheme will use the existing storages at the water reclamation plant.
There is also relatively less total demand for agricultural water in the central and southern parts of the Bellarine Peninsula making the use of the Bellarine Basin less feasible.
How is this project being funded?
We have received $650,000 funding under the Victorian Government’s Distinctive Areas and Landscapes program to rehabilitate and revegetate this site.
Barwon Water will contribute the same amount to the $1.3-million project to begin remediating and revegetating the site.
Transforming the site and implementing all the actions agreed with our community will be carried out progressively over a number of years. These actions may be subject to detailed design and future funding opportunities.
The new public open space is expected to be progressively available for the community and visitors to enjoy while we work towards realising all objectives and actions set out for the site.
Will this project lead to an increase in customer bills?
No, this project will not lead to an increase in customer bills. The project is part of a wider property consolidation program that will ultimately result in up to 30 Barwon Water landholdings being sold or repurposed. The net income from the program will help keep downward pressure on bills.
What consultation is Barwon Water undertaking?
We will engage with Traditional Owners, Government agencies, local environment groups, neighbouring land owners and the local community to help inform a plan for the site.
We will keep the community informed at each stage of the project.
We have established an agency advisory group to provide advice and oversee the project. This includes Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and City of Greater Geelong.
How can I have my say?
We welcome your input into this project. Have your say via the web page, community newsletters, local media and social media.
If you have any questions about this project or would like to register for email updates, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 656 007.
You can also use the Q&A tool on the project page.