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Bellarine Basin to become public space

Barwon Water is transforming its disused Bellarine Basin site into more than 30 hectares of environmental and public space, with planning for the works kicking off this month.

The basin was used from the 1930s, until it was decommissioned in 2011 following supply system upgrades.

The project will involve the removal of the old reservoir to enable the natural headwaters of Yarram Creek to be restored, allowing for wetlands to be established and the community to enjoy a new green space.

The works will also involve dismantling security fencing, and replacing a pine tree plantation with native trees, scrubs and grasses.

Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said the utility is pleased to be working with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, local community and agencies to improve the environment at the site and add to Bellarine’s natural attractions.

“We want to transform the disused basin site into an area that enhances the unique and natural features of the Bellarine Peninsula so that it becomes a place people, birds and native animals can enjoy for generations to come,” she said.

The rehabilitation project will be delivered in stages during the next three years and input from the community will be sought along the way.

“We have already been liaising with a number of local community and environmental groups including the Bellarine Catchment Network and the Geelong Field Naturalists Club, who have welcomed the opportunity to be involved in this important project,” Slatter said.

The 2021 works will focus on realigning the waterway, removing some of the pine plantation and promoting the regrowth of native vegetation at the site.

“As it will take time for some of the native vegetation to return and flourish, areas of pine trees will be retained in the short term to complement the regrowth of native vegetation and preserve and improve local wildlife habitats,” Slatter said.

Bellarine Catchment Network Program Manager Matt Crawley said the project offered an opportunity for the community to come together and improve the local environment.

“As an organisation focused on projects that protect and enhance the Bellarine environment, we couldn’t be more excited by this project and look forward to working with Barwon Water and other stakeholders in the coming years on a project that will significantly improve the environment and natural amenity of the Bellarine,” he said.

Early stages of the project are underway, including a biodiversity assessment, which will help inform broader plans for the site.

Barwon Water received $650,000 funding under the Victorian Government’s Distinctive Areas and Landscapes program and will be contributing the same amount to the $1.3 million project.