Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation

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Boundary Creek is a tributary of the Barwon River.

About 19 kilometres long, it flows east through Barongarook, and joins the Barwon River at Yeodene, about 16 kilometres south-east of Colac. Big Swamp (also known as Yeodene Swamp) is a peat swamp on Boundary Creek. The swamp is located about four kilometres upstream from the confluence of Boundary Creek and the Barwon River.

Technical work has confirmed that the operation of the Barwon Downs borefield over the past 30 years is responsible for two thirds of the reduction of base flow into Boundary Creek.

The dry climate experienced during the same period accounts for the remaining third.

This suggests that the lower sections of Boundary Creek would likely have no flow periods during summer regardless of groundwater pumping, however pumping has increased the frequency and duration of no flow periods in lower reaches of Boundary Creek.

The remediation of Boundary Creek and Big Swamp was identified as a community priority during the consultation for the Barwon Downs borefield groundwater licence renewal in the latter part of 2017.

Since May 2018, Barwon Water has been working with a dedicated community and stakeholder working group to develop a remediation plan for Big Swamp and Boundary Creek.

In late February 2020, Southern Rural Water accepted Barwon Water's remediation and environmental protection plan for Boundary Creek, Big Swamp and the surrounding environment.

Implementation of the remediation and environmental protection plan commenced in March 2020.

Barwon Water is committed to keeping the local community and key stakeholders informed regarding the progress of remediation and to sharing the findings and outcomes of the plan.


See also: Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation

Boundary Creek is a tributary of the Barwon River.

About 19 kilometres long, it flows east through Barongarook, and joins the Barwon River at Yeodene, about 16 kilometres south-east of Colac. Big Swamp (also known as Yeodene Swamp) is a peat swamp on Boundary Creek. The swamp is located about four kilometres upstream from the confluence of Boundary Creek and the Barwon River.

Technical work has confirmed that the operation of the Barwon Downs borefield over the past 30 years is responsible for two thirds of the reduction of base flow into Boundary Creek.

The dry climate experienced during the same period accounts for the remaining third.

This suggests that the lower sections of Boundary Creek would likely have no flow periods during summer regardless of groundwater pumping, however pumping has increased the frequency and duration of no flow periods in lower reaches of Boundary Creek.

The remediation of Boundary Creek and Big Swamp was identified as a community priority during the consultation for the Barwon Downs borefield groundwater licence renewal in the latter part of 2017.

Since May 2018, Barwon Water has been working with a dedicated community and stakeholder working group to develop a remediation plan for Big Swamp and Boundary Creek.

In late February 2020, Southern Rural Water accepted Barwon Water's remediation and environmental protection plan for Boundary Creek, Big Swamp and the surrounding environment.

Implementation of the remediation and environmental protection plan commenced in March 2020.

Barwon Water is committed to keeping the local community and key stakeholders informed regarding the progress of remediation and to sharing the findings and outcomes of the plan.


See also: Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation

  • Scope of works to inform Boundary Creek and Big Swamp Remediation Plan submitted to Southern Rural Water

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    21 December, 2018

    In mid-September, 2018, Barwon Water received a Section 78 Ministerial Notice pursuant to Section 78 of the Water Act 1989, directing the corporation to develop and implement a remediation plan for the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments

    In accordance with that notice, Barwon Water submitted its scope of works to Southern Rural Water by December 20.

    The scope of works outlines the area that will be covered by the remediation plan, the environmental values to be included and the necessary environmental assessments and methodology proposed to develop the remediation plan.

    In developing the scope of works, Barwon Water has:

    • identified all appropriate hydrogeological, hydrological and geochemical assessments to support the development of the remediation plan.
    • incorporated ideas and feedback gathered from the community via Barwon Water’s Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation working group (including the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority).
    • shared a draft scope of works with Southern Rural Water’s independent technical review panel for feedback.
    • considered the State Environmental Protection Policy (Victorian Waters).

    In addition, the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation working group has also benefitted from the advice of three independent technical experts who they nominated to support them in their discussions. The scope of works document also incorporates input from these technical experts.

    Further, Barwon Water has also proposed that a review of the scope of works be undertaken by the working group’s nominated technical experts.

    Based on these further inputs, and any further feedback from Southern Rural Water’s independent technical review panel, Barwon Water may refine the scope of works and provide any updated information to Southern Rural Water.

    The Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation community and stakeholder working group has been informed of this approach and will be provided ongoing updates.

    The group is made up of representatives from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA), Colac Otway Shire Council, LAWROC, PALM (People for a Living Moorabool), Upper Barwon Landcare Group, Boundary Creek landowners, Traditional Owners and other interested community members.

    Read: Scope of works
  • Remediation approach for Boundary Creek and Big Swamp – Section 78 notice released

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    05 October, 2018

    Barwon Water welcomes the direction from the Minister for Water in relation to a legally enforceable remediation plan for Boundary Creek, Big Swamp and surrounding environments impacted by past groundwater extraction at Barwon Downs, under Section 78 (s78) of the Water Act 1989.

    The s78 notice is now publicly available on the Barwon Water website.

    Read: Remediation approach for Boundary Creek and Big Swamp – Section 78 notice released

  • Update on remediation approach for Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments

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    27 September, 2018

    In mid-September, Barwon Water received a Section 78 Ministerial Notice pursuant to Section 78 of the Water Act 1989, directing the corporation to develop and implement a remediation for the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments.

    Barwon Water welcomed the notice for a legally enforceable remediation plan for the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments impacted by past groundwater extraction at Barwon Downs.

    The notice provides added assurance to the community and legally enshrines Barwon Water’s intention to remediate Boundary Creek and Big Swamp.

    Barwon Water will fully cooperate with the Section 78 notice to get the right outcomes. Furthermore, we are committed to working closely with the local community, key agencies and technical experts in the years ahead as we work towards developing and implementing the remediation plan.

    We have been engaging with the community, key stakeholders and community nominated technical experts through our Boundary Creek Remediation Working Group to help Barwon Water design the remediation plan including identifying what the success measures might be.

    Barwon Water will continue to provide updates to the community on this project.

  • Outcomes of workshop three for the Big Swamp and Boundary Creek remediation plan

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    17 September, 2018

    On August 22, Barwon Water hosted the third workshop with the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation working group.

    The purpose of the meeting was for the working group to identify success measures to direct scoping of a field program by the nominated experts and technical consultant.

    Success measures have been grouped into:

    • No further downstream impacts to the Barwon River
    • That landholders can access good quality and quantity of water for stock
    • That Big Swamp is a valuable environmental asset

    The working group welcomed the wealth of knowledge and experience the experts brought in helping inform the discussion about success measures.

    The group acknowledged that remediation of Boundary Creek and Big Swamp is challenging and complex and welcomed the approach taken to develop the remediation plan.

    The next steps for the project include:

    • field program development and implementation
    • the nominated experts to reassess the remediation options in light of the results of the field program
    • consult the remediation group about success targets and preferred remediation option.

    The working group reconfirmed their commitment to the process and will meet again later this year to hear about the field program.

  • Remediation approach for Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments

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    09 August, 2018

    Barwon Water welcomes the direction from the Minister for Water in relation to a legally enforceable remediation plan for the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments impacted by past groundwater extraction at Barwon Downs, under Section 78 of the Water Act 1989.

    Managing Director, Tracey Slatter said this not only provides added assurance to the community but legally enshrines Barwon Water’s intention to remediate Boundary Creek and Big Swamp as part of its application to Southern Rural Water to renew the Barwon Downs borefield licence.

    “Barwon Water is keen to cooperate with the Section 78 notice and the licence application process to get the right outcomes,” Ms Slatter said.

    “We are also committed to working closely with the local community, key agencies and technical experts in the years ahead as we work towards achieving this,” Ms Slatter said.

    “We have been consulting with the community and key stakeholders to help Barwon Water design the remediation plan including identifying what the success criteria might be.”

    At the request of community members, three independent technical experts were invited to contribute to the process. These experts will work with Barwon Water’s existing technical consultant and the remediation working group to refine the remediation concept and address any important information gaps before finalising the plan.

  • Working group hear from their nominated experts in response to the remediation concept design

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    08 August, 2018

    Barwon Water held a second workshop with the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp community and stakeholder remediation working group on 25 July 2018.

    The purpose of the meeting was to listen to group’s nominated experts and Barwon Water’s existing technical consultant in response to the remediation concept and information gaps the group had raised.

    The three experts nominated by the group were:

    • Dr Vanessa Wong: Senior Lecturer, School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University.
    • Prof Richard Bush: Global Innovation Chair, International Centre for Balanced Land Use Office - DVC (Research and Innovation) (Earth Sciences), Newcastle University.
    • Dr Darren Baldwin: Independent Consultant, Charles Sturt University, Visiting Adjunct Professor, School of Environmental Sciences.

    Barwon Water is working with the independent experts and existing consultants to further develop short and long term objectives for the remediation plan. This information will be presented at the next workshop.

    The third workshop is scheduled for late August.
  • Working group meets for the first time to consider remediation concept design

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    30 May, 2018

    The Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation group came together in early May to actively engage with Barwon Water and one another in the design of a remediation plan for Boundary Creek and Big Swamp.

    The group is made up of community and stakeholder representatives from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA), Colac Otway Shire Council, LAWROC, PALM (People for a Living Moorabool), Upper Barwon Landcare Group, Boundary Creek landowners, Traditional Owners and other interested community members.

    The formation of this group is in response to community feedback to improve stream flow and water quality of Boundary Creek, with the goal of returning the creek to a healthy ecosystem.

    The role of the working group will be to provide valuable local knowledge, suggest alternate options for remediation and foster and champion greater community awareness of the remediation plan

    At the meeting, the group participated in constructive discussion and established clear direction to address community and stakeholder concerns.

    Working group members also nominated a number of experts and and identify actions to help address information gaps and stakeholder concerns.

    The next working group meeting will be at the end of July.

    Barwon Water will continue to keep the broader community updated on the progress of the group.