Campaigners say it is wrong that the Moorabool River will survive on a drip feed while Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree will be filled by late next year.
The State Government decision to fill the Ballarat lake, which would see $1.3 million spent on a new pipe to take water from a Ballarat bore has dumbfounded environmental groups.
People for a Living Moorabool co-ordinator Cameron Steele said the Moorabool River had survived on drought allocations for the past 10 years and was widely regarded as the state’s most flow-stressed river.
“It’s almost at the point now where you can’t call it a river but a series of Moorabool lakes,” Mr Steele said.
He called on the State Government to deliver its 2004 promise of an environmental water reserve for the river.
Six years later the river was still “on its knees” getting drought allotments.
Corangamite Catchment Management Authority in partnership with Central Highlands Water and Barwon Water released an 80 million litre flow in April.
Environment Victoria healthy rivers campaigner Amelia Young said the State Government had mismanaged waterways for 10 years.
“The Moorabool is just one of 10 very thirsty waterways in the state,” she said.
Ms Young said filling Lake Wendouree was important but should not be done at the expense of rivers still suffering from drought.
Corangamite CMA chief executive Gareth Smith said timelines for an environmental water entitlement were established in 2006 and it was still working to implement those with the State Government and water corporations.
Mr Smith said establishing an environmental water reserve was still critical to the river’s health, which he acknowledged was “a highly flow-stressed system.”
DSE spokeswoman Kim Payne said filling Lake Wendouree would not affect plans made in 2006 to replenish the Moorabool River.
“Work is well advanced to redirect treated groundwater from Fyansford quarry to the Moorabool River and more water is being returned as major water supply projects for Geelong and Ballarat are completed,” she said.