2016 Wimmera catchment at the highest level since 2011 | Video, Graph

Water in the Wimmera catchment has reached its highest level since 2011.
Water in the Wimmera catchment has reached its highest level since 2011.

MONTHS of heavy rain has secured the Wimmera’s water supply for the next four years.

Above average rainfall so far in October in parts of the region has followed a record wet September.

Water in the Wimmera catchment has now reached its highest level since 2011, when the region last flooded.

GWMWater chairman Peter Vogel said it was wonderful news for the region.

“It gives all the farming fraternity a lot of confidence, along with intensive water users,” he said.

“We are looking at four years of security in the supply now, even if we have below average flows.

“It is a magnificent position to be in and one we haven’t seen since 2011.”

The supply reservoirs are now holding 351,290 megalitres out of a possible 556,895 megalitres, making the system 63.1 per cent full.

Water in Green Lake

Lake Lonsdale was dry earlier this year but is now more than 95 per cent full.

Water levels in Rocklands Reservoir have tripled between July and October.

Mr Vogel said Rocklands was just under 50 per cent full, while Bellfield was at 87 per cent and Taylors Lake and Wartook Reservoir were full.

“We are actually releasing water out of Lonsdale, Taylors and Wartook in case we get more substantial rainfall,” he said.

“Earlier this year the system was at less than 20 per cent.

“We have installed new standpipes and all the catchment dams in the eastern Grampians are full, or close to full. 

“The rain has relieved a lot of pressure in the region.”

Bureau of Meteorology figures show St Arnaud, Beulah, Rupanyup, Birchip, Donald, Ararat, Warracknabeal and Stawell had their wettest September on record.

Other parts of the region, such as Balmoral, Goroke, Apsley, Drung, Great Western, Longerenong, Yanac and Kaniva, recorded their wettest September in 20 years.

So far this month Horsham has received 35 millimetres, which is above the October average of 30.6mm. Wimmera Catchment Management Authority chief executive David Brennan said rain had mostly fallen on farmland, rather than in the catchment area, which was unusual.

“This is why people have experienced flooding and water-logged paddocks,” Mr Brennan said. He said 2016 had been a year of feast and famine.

“We’ve gone from drought to floods.

“The Wimmera River is still flowing into Lake Hindmarsh and water is flowing from the upper catchment, which will continue for a number of weeks.”

GWMWater has removed 200 megalitres from Lake Lonsdale to balance rising water levels. 

Water resources manager Andrew Barton said the lake had gone from empty to full very quickly.

“We have been pumping water out of Lake Lonsdale because it has become too full,” he said.

“We have a maximum operating level at the lake so anything below that level we may store and anything above it we must legally take out or risk the reservoir spilling water.”

Lake Lonsdale Action Group president Ray Howard said the move to pump water out of the lake was justified. 

“If the water levels are not balanced out then the reservoir could spill resulting in road and farm damage and crop loss,” he said.

“The community deserves to know why water has been removed from the lake so everybody is aware of the situation.”