In an effort to secure Geelong’s water supply and protect the environment, the Victorian Government is limiting groundwater extraction in the Otways to a bare minimum.
Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, has reduced the amount of water that can be taken from the Gerangamete Groundwater Management Area (GMA) from 20,000ML per year to just 239ML per year.
The limit on taking water from the neighbouring Gellibrand GMA, that shares a common recharge area with Gerangamete GMA, has been set at zero.
This decision cuts the Permissible Consumptive Volumes (PCV) – the amount of groundwater that can be extracted – to allow for the much-needed recovery of the Gerangamete groundwater resource and its surrounding environment and ecosystems.
Ms Neville said reducing the extraction limit at Gerangamete was a common sense move that will allow the groundwater resource and its surrounding areas to recover from the impacts of past extraction.
“Healthy waterways mean healthy communities, and we’re keeping the water flowing to greater Geelong in a sustainable way that ensures the natural environment is protected.
“This builds on critical remediation works we’ve required Barwon Water to carry out to improve the health of these catchments and their ecosystems.”
The amendment will support Barwon Water’s critical remediation works to improve and protect the health of Boundary Creek, Big Swamp and the surrounding environments.
Importantly, three local farmers who have access to the groundwater will not be impacted by the reduction, with the limit for the Gerangamete GMA set to cover the total volume of these existing licenses.
The PCV also includes provision for a small quantity of water per year to be used for pump testing and maintenance – and access for emergencies can also be facilitated.
Setting the limit at just two per cent of what was originally permitted to be taken from the area ensures the environment is being protected and the groundwater can recover.
The Victorian Government listened to feedback from the local community, addressing their concerns that the current extraction level was compromising the health of waterways and ecosystems in the area.
This is the outcome of a 2018 review ordered by Minister Neville to assess the Gerangamete PVC, delivering a sensible and sustainable new limit that supports the community, local businesses and the environment.
The Victorian Government has also invested in the Melbourne-Geelong pipeline, which along with other Barwon Water initiatives will ensure water security for the region.