The Anglesea River Working Group met in June to consider reports on the condition of the river from the Estuary Watch group, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Barwon Water, Surf Coast Shire, DELWP and Alcoa.

The Working Group meets approximately quarterly and comprises the above organisations and members of the community with a major interest in the river. These included representatives of camps, the Business and Tourism Association, fisheries and fisher people and environmental organisations. It usually meets at the ANGAIR office, but recent meetings have been held on Zoom. ANGAIR is represented by Peter and Christine Forster.

Estuary Watch reported on observed water quality and river height. PH levels are still generally low (high acidity) with some relief from local fresh flows after rainfall. This high acidity reduces ecological health for fish and other fauna. River height has increased mainly due to inflows from the ocean and topping of the berm with high tides and ocean swells. Dr Sarah McSweeny is studying the impact of artificial and natural opening of the river mouth.

Surf Coast Shire reported on action to reduce mosquito larvae in the river. Spraying with an environmentally friendly treatment took place twice, the latest being in late April.

Barwon Water reported on the monitoring of the Anglesea borefield in the Lower Eastern View Formation. BW has been pumping water to supplement our water supply after the very dry year in 2019. Recent improvements in rainfall and runoff have improved our traditional water supply from the West Barwon Reservoir and pumping may cease soon. The lower aquifer provides an emergency water supply when water levels are low. Bore levels are carefully monitored to make sure they do not fall below safe trigger levels. More detail on this can be found on the Barwon Water website. BW continues to supplement river flows in dry times with river water that has been stored in an Alcoa dam.

The CCMA briefed the working group on progress with the Environmental Flows Study which will identify flow issues on the river system and indicate flow requirements to improve the ecological health of the river. An issues paper will be released in the near future.

Alcoa advised the working group that it has applied for a permit to pump test bores in the Upper Eastern View Formation. These bores have been used by Alcoa for many years and could be a possible source of water to accelerate the filling of the mine void, an essential part of the rehabilitation of the mine. Any pumping is expected to be much less than that previously used by Alcoa and will be closely monitored together with the lower aquifer. Alcoa also advised that natural inflows to the Anglesea River from Marshy Creek and Salt Creek had yet to commence to flow, in spite of recent rainfall.

DELWP advised that work was continuing on possible ways to accelerate filling of the mine void. Partial filling of the void is also essential to ensure progress on the Eden Project concept.

ANGAIR continues to be actively involved in all these activities to ensure that we have positive ecological outcomes for the river and the groundwater dependent perched swamps upstream.

Chris Forster

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