Campaigners pushing to prevent pumping

LAWROC’s Malcolm Gardiner, left, and Andrew McLennan want to stop Barwon Water from securing a groundwater pumping licence for Barwon Downs. They are pictured with Nellie Shalley whose property includes affected waterways.

Campaigners are heightening their opposition to Barwon Water’s groundwater pumping at Barwon Downs, as the water authority pushes to renew a licence to extract water from the site.

Regulatory body Southern Rural Water is accepting public submissions until March 1 on Barwon Water’s application to renew its licence for the site, with a current licence set to expire midyear.

Otway landcare group LAWROC will distribute more than 40,000 pamphlets in coming weeks to the Colac, Winchelsea and Geelong areas urging community members to oppose the licence application.

“It’s important that if people feel strongly enough, if they believe that the groundwater extraction should stop, or be slowed right down to basically nothing, that they put in a submission and let Southern Rural Water know,” LAWROC’s Malcolm Gardiner said.

Barwon Water has confirmed its past groundwater pumping at Barwon Downs, which started in 1983 and last occurred in 2016, has contributed to acid water released from Yeodene’s Big Swamp into Boundary Creek and is also the main cause of a reduced base flow in the creek.

Barwon Water strategy, systems and environment acting general manager Seamus Butcher said the water authority “shares the community’s concern for the environmental health and remediation of Big Swamp and Boundary Creek”.

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