Lake is replenished

FLOWING: Ron Kelly, left, and Brett Condely are pleased to see environmental water flowing into Lake Meran.LAKE Meran users are rejoicing after it was announced that an extra 2000 megalitres of environmental water would be released into the lake over the next month.
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The North Central Catchment Management Authority sought approval from the Victorian Environment Water Holder to enable the flow of water into the lake, 22 kilometres south-west of Kerang.

The flow of water, which began on April 2, will increase the water level by about 1.5 metres and bring the lake’s overall capacity to almost 60 per cent.

The catchment authority said the aim of this watering is to “provide ongoing deep-water habitat within the like for plants and animals and maintain the health of surrounding trees”.

Ron Kelly, who led an online petition to boost awareness of the lake and the need for increased water levels earlier in the year, said the bolstered water capacity has drawn recreational water users to the area.

“The publicity has increased interest amongst campers and day-trippers remarkably,” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly said more work needs to be done to work through remaining issues between interested stakeholders.

At last month’s Gannawarra Shire Council meeting, Patchell ward councillor, Mark Arians was successful in convincing council to convene a bi-annual meeting, with representatives from various water agencies in attendance, to enhance its commitment to waterway management.

Mr Kelly said as long as the bi-annual forums are held, Lake Meran advocates will have the vehicle needed to ensure environmental water flows are not once-off events.

“If nothing gets off the ground, of course we will keep agitating,” he said.

“When water comes out through farmer diversion licences and natural evaporation, we want water to replenish that.”

North Central Catchment Management Authority project officer, Philip Slessar said a range of monitoring activities will take place over the next 12 months, including salinity monitoring by the way of a continuous probe installed in the lake.

“We will also be closely monitoring lake height and the water entering the lake to ensure we reach our objectives,” Mr Slessar said.

Mr Slessar said a vegetation survey is also planned for later in the year to provide comparison with last year’s information, depending on funding.

The results will inform future environmental watering decisions, while the catchment authority stressed that future deliveries to the lake will be assessed according to an annual prioritisation process.

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