Upper Barwon River breaks banks and changes course

January 30, 2023 BY

The Upper Barwon River's West branch has changed course and is now flowing for six kilometres through private property. Photo: SUPPLIED

EROSION of the Upper Barwon River near Forrest due to high flows over the last six months has led to the waterway breaking its banks and changing course.

Flows from the rivers West branch near Boundary Road are now traveling through a six kilometre section of old channel system on private property, before re-joining the main channel downstream.

The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) issued a statement that said the unwanted diversion has resulted in low flow conditions in the main channel of the upper Barwon River’s West branch.

“With current conditions, environmental water from the upper Barwon River entitlement will not be released down the Barwon River West branch to avoid water entering the old channel system and causing flooding of private property downstream,” the CCMA stated.

Under normal conditions environmental water releases in the West branch can be up to 30 ML/day but to avoid flooding of private land the CCMA and Barwon Water will only be releasing a tenth of that figure down the rivers East branch.

“The Corangamite CMA has commissioned consultants to investigate the changed flow conditions and determine appropriate short term and long-term remediation options. The Corangamite CMA will undertake emergency works as identified by the investigation to overcome the immediate issue before longer term works are undertaken.”

The CCMA statement also included a warning that “rapid changes to river flow caused by the transition from wet to drier conditions”, was impacting river flows above Inverleigh.

“If hot and dry conditions persist, past experience shows that the river is likely to cease to flow down to Inverleigh.”