East Barwon Willow Removal and Restoration Project

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Barwon Water is working with local landowners, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) and specialised consultants and experts to remove willows within a section of the East Barwon River to support water security and waterway health.

What does the project involve?

Currently Barwon Water transfers water from its West Barwon Reservoir, located outside of Forrest via a 3.5 kilometre section of the East Barwon River, at which point it diverts into the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel (WBIC) and travels approximately 57 kilometres to the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir where it is treated and supplied to customers in the greater Geelong region.

Willow infestation has caused loss of transfer capacity through this section of the East Barwon River, which reduces Barwon Water’s capacity to transfer water and leads to flooding of adjacent properties.

The $2.35 million project will involve the removal of the willows, remediation of the affected sections of the river through bank stabilisation, replanting with native vegetation and stock exclusion fencing (please see map overleaf for an aerial image of the location of the works).

Working with our partners

The issue of invasive weeds is complex and we are working with landowners and neighbouring property owners, the CCMA, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Eastern Maar on a shared land management approach to effectively manage the issue.

For further information, head to our News section

Barwon Water is working with local landowners, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) and specialised consultants and experts to remove willows within a section of the East Barwon River to support water security and waterway health.

What does the project involve?

Currently Barwon Water transfers water from its West Barwon Reservoir, located outside of Forrest via a 3.5 kilometre section of the East Barwon River, at which point it diverts into the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel (WBIC) and travels approximately 57 kilometres to the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir where it is treated and supplied to customers in the greater Geelong region.

Willow infestation has caused loss of transfer capacity through this section of the East Barwon River, which reduces Barwon Water’s capacity to transfer water and leads to flooding of adjacent properties.

The $2.35 million project will involve the removal of the willows, remediation of the affected sections of the river through bank stabilisation, replanting with native vegetation and stock exclusion fencing (please see map overleaf for an aerial image of the location of the works).

Working with our partners

The issue of invasive weeds is complex and we are working with landowners and neighbouring property owners, the CCMA, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Eastern Maar on a shared land management approach to effectively manage the issue.

For further information, head to our News section

  • East Barwon Willow Removal and Restoration project update

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    Barwon Water is continuing to work with local landowners, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) and specialised consultants and experts to remove willows and restabilise a section of the East Barwon River to support water security and waterway health.

    The issue of invasive weeds is complex and we are working with landowners and neighbouring property owners, the CCMA, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Eastern Maar on a shared land management approach to effectively manage the issue.

    During August 2022, specialised contractors planted more than 37,000 native shrubs, grasses and trees along the river bank of the East Barwon River following the removal of willows earlier this year. The replanting of native vegetation is a really important part of the project and will help stabilise the streambank, reduce harmful pathogens (organisms that cause disease) and nutrients entering the waterway and limit the spread of Glyceria.

    Barwon Water will continue to monitor the water transfers from West Barwon Reservoir to the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel via the East Barwon River to ensure the integrity of the riverbank stabilisation is maintained.

    Stage 2 of the project, is progressing well with the detailed design of the realignment of the East Barwon River and further willow removal confirmed. A Cultural Heritage Assessment was also recently completed.

    Stage 2 works are expected to commence and be completed over the 2023/2024 summer period.

  • Stage 2 works

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    A second stage of the project has commenced planning and will involve realignment of the river and removing willows downstream of Barwon Water’s Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel offtake. These works are required in order to ensure ongoing protection of the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel embankment and on-stream monitoring assets and to fulfill Barwon Water’s land management obligations.

    An external consultant has been engaged to complete concept options and detailed designs for this second stage of works. The options will be shared with the CCMA, local landowners, Eastern Maar and DELWP to confirm agreement on the approach and to inform the confirmed option’s detailed design.

    Barwon Water has been in discussion with local landowners regarding this new stage and will continue to keep local landowners informed as the project progresses.

  • Community update April 2022

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    Barwon Water is working with local landowners, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) and specialised consultants to remove willows within a 3.5km section of the East Barwon River to support water security and waterway health, and alleviate flooding issues.

    The Willow infestation through this section of the river, reduces Barwon Water’s capacity to transfer water from West Barwon Reservoir to the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel and can lead to flooding.

    Work to remove the willows and stabilise the embankment began in early January and is now complete. This is a major milestone, along with the successful processing of all the willow waste on the river flats in the self-contained air burner units. The success of this part of the project was attributed to the careful planning and collaboration between the project team, Principle contractors Deja Eight and DELWP’s Forest Fire Management (FFM).

    Barwon Water will continue to monitor the remaining works planned including the installation of off stream water systems, fencing, reinstatement and site demobilisation.

    Water transfers from West Barwon Reservoir to the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel via this reach are planned to commence in late April. Barwon Water will closely monitor water transfers to ensure the integrity of bank stabilisation is maintained.

    Barwon Water will continue engaging with and updating landholders and community.

  • Update - January 2022

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    East Barwon Willow Removal project update

    Barwon Water’s works on the East Barwon willow removal project to improve water transfer capacity and river health are progressing well.

    On December 2 last year, Forrest-based civil earthmoving contractors Deja Eight began preparing the site to start removing the invasive willow trees that choke a stretch of the East Barwon River, restricting flow and causing increased flooding, upstream of the Wurdee Boluc channel.

    Following a Cultural Heritage Induction based on the Cultural Heritage Management Plan, which Eastern Maar Traditional Owners Corporation approved in November, the site preparation work, including chemical treatment of the willow trees through stem injection, was completed prior to the Christmas break.

    Work to remove the willows began on January 4 starting on the southwest side of the river and the willow waste is being stockpiled on site.

    Barwon Water has been working closely with Deja Eight, sub-contractors Organic Matter Solutions and DELWP in preparation to safely manage the processing of the willow waste on the river flats in self-contained air burner units.

    A planned burn risk assessment, facilitated by Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) team has been developed and will be included as a planned burn within the 2021/22 Joint Fire Management Program.

    Starting in early February, it is expected to take one week to process the willow waste, operating the air burner units over a 24-hour cycle.

    Further details on the air burner operation will be provided to the community via FFMVic planned burn notifications.

    Meanwhile, a contract for the tailored riparian revegetation program was awarded to local contractor Tree Management Services.

    Propagation of seedlings has started in preparation for planting next spring.

    The establishment of riparian vegetation is a key aspect of the project and will help stabilise the reach, reduce stream velocities and siltation, and provide a buffer to reduce pathogens and nutrients entering the waterway.

    Establishment of a dense over-storey is also important in shading the river, limiting the spread of Glyceria, and providing continuous habitat for fish and other aquatic fauna.

    Three research projects associated with the works are also being undertaken by Deakin University researchers focusing on riparian buffers within the Upper Barwon catchment. They include:

    • a PhD project focusing on the effects of willow removal and the physical characteristics of riparian restoration on water quality, microclimate, and morphology (this project is being sponsored by Barwon Water, Deakin and Water Research Australia)
    • a masters project to develop a tool for calculating the costs and benefits of riparian buffers for stakeholders, and
    • an honours project investigating leaf decomposition rates and processes between streams.

    Completion of the willow removal works are expected by April 30.

    Barwon Water has also been appointed Committee of Management for this 3.5 kilometre section of the East Barwon River and will be responsible for the long term management of the riparian vegetation through this reach.

    Background

    Barwon Water is co-ordinating a project to rehabilitate a 3-kilometre section of the East Barwon River. Barwon Water uses this section of the river to transfer water from its West Barwon Reservoir to the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir.

    Willow infestation has caused loss of transfer capacity through this section of the East Barwon River, which reduces Barwon Water’s capacity to transfer water and leads to flooding of adjacent properties.

    Barwon Water worked with Eastern Maar Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation on a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the project, and is collaborating with local landowners.

    Barwon Water has a strong commitment to environmental improvement and is also supporting the Corangamite CMA and landowners on improvements to the health of the East and West Barwon Rivers in other areas.

Page last updated: 12 Oct 2022, 11:23 AM