Barwon Water to remove part of historic aqueduct at Breakwater
BARWON Water wants to remove nearly a third of an aqueduct on the Barwon River at Breakwater in an attempt to create safe access to the area.
The water corporation is applying to Heritage Victoria for a permit to remove five of the 14 spans of the heritage-listed, 100-year-old ovoid sewer aqueduct, which has been deteriorating in condition since the 1970s.
Since 1995, areas around the aqueduct, including on the river, have been closed to the public due to the risk of falling concrete, which has prevented movement along the river and land on either side of the aqueduct.
Barwon Water managing director Tracey Slatter said Barwon Water appreciated the historic significance of the 756-metre-long aqueduct structure and needed to balance this with public safety, first and foremost, and what was fair and reasonable for Barwon Water customers to pay when it came to managing the structure.
“We have investigated all possible options for improving, stopping or slowing the aqueduct’s natural degradation, particularly across the river, but technical advice has made it clear that it is simply not viable from a safety and cost perspective.
“As such, we believe the best option is to remove several spans across the river so that people enjoying the river and its surrounds can do so safely, without the risk of falling concrete from the structure.”
Barwon Water is seeking to remove the five aqueduct spans over and immediately next to the river on the north bank.
The aqueduct divides 66 hectares of Barwon Water-owned land, and as part of the plan to make the area safe, Barwon Water wants to create public open space that is unique for its high ecological, historical, cultural and recreational values.
“As part of exploring opportunities for improving the surrounding land to make it a valuable community asset, we plan to engage with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners to gather information about the landscape and water, and seek input from all other interested stakeholders to develop a plan for the area,” Ms Slatter said.
She said as part of the proposal, the majority of the aqueduct structure would remain behind improved and more aesthetically pleasing fencing to prevent people from climbing on or under it.
“We would like its history and story to be recognised through an interpretive strategy to be submitted with the Heritage Victoria application and further developed with stakeholder input.”
Barwon Water has engaged heritage advisors Lovell Chen to act on its behalf in the Heritage Victoria application process and has advised community representatives and groups of its intentions.
Upon receipt of Barwon Water’s application, Heritage Victoria will publish it on their website (heritage.vic.gov.au) and ask for written submissions from the community.