PARCHED: Lake Colac days from drying up

Colac Herald photographer Tammy Brown flew over Colac yesterday to capture the rapidly declining water levels of Lake Colac.

Colac Herald photographer Tammy Brown flew over Colac yesterday to capture the rapidly declining water levels of Lake Colac.

LAKE COLAC is days away from completely drying up for the second time since European colonisation in Colac 179 years ago.

Colac Herald photographer Tammy Brown took aerial shots of Lake Colac yesterday during a flight over the city with Colac pilot Norm Tann.

Tammy’s photos show the lake has shrunk to shallow patches of water in the centre, and at the Barongarook Creek mouth and recycled water outlet.

Mr Tann said he felt there was “a lot more water there than in 2009” when Lake Colac last dried up on January 14, 2009.

Mr Tann also flew a Colac Herald photographer over Lake Colac in 2009.

His observation comes after Lake Colac historian John Martin declared the lake dry on Wednesday afternoon.

Colac Herald photographer Tammy Brown flew over Colac yesterday to capture the rapidly declining water levels of Lake Colac.

Colac Herald photographer Tammy Brown flew over Colac yesterday to capture the rapidly declining water levels of Lake Colac.

Mr Martin said he had been checking the lake’s water levels daily for the past 10 days.

Lake Colac has three nearby water sources from Deans Creek, Barongarook Creek and the Barwon Water sewage treatment plant which continue to flow into the lake.

But Mr Martin says the water from those sources will soon dissipate into the mud.

“The last remaining pools of water have disappeared from Lake Colac”, Mr Martin said.

“The two creeks don’t alter much, they go on to a certain point in the lake and then go into the mud.

“And all the sewage and industrial water goes into Barwon Water’s treatment plant, goes onto the mud flat and meanders its way out and dissipates.”

Mr Martin said there were benefits and disadvantages from the drying up of Lake Colac.

Lake Colac historian John Martin with a handful of soil from the dry Lake Colac. Mr Martin declared the lake dry for the second time in 179 years, barring small flows into the lake from Deans Creek, Barongarook Creek and a Barwon Water sewage treatment plant.

Lake Colac historian John Martin with a handful of soil from the dry Lake Colac. Mr Martin declared the lake dry for the second time in 179 years, barring small flows into the lake from Deans Creek, Barongarook Creek and a Barwon Water sewage treatment plant.

“The good thing is it is not causing erosion to the banks; when the water level is high, it can cause a tremendous amount of damage,” he said.

“The bad thing is we have the loss of tourism, sporting things and the general beauty of the lake.

“But it’s a fact of life, Lake Colac is known as a shallow lake and it is reflective of the low catchment patterns.”

Mr Martin said he feared the lake would continue to dry out until significant rainfall came to Colac and district.

“The lake has the potential to have a usable water level in 12 months, but it is highly unlikely.

“We have to have record rainfalls in excess of 1200 millimetres in the catchments.

“I’m a farmer and I hope it doesn’t remain dry for the next couple of weeks, because we really need rain now.”

Corangamite Catchment Management Authority spokesman Gavan Mathieson said the organisation believed that “based on recent observations the lake is dry with only a very small pool of visible water remaining in the centre”.

The ongoing decline of water levels at Lake Colac comes as the city recorded below-average rainfall in March.

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