11 June, 2012

A visit to the Big Lake

Today's expedition took us not to the Barwon, but to the place where much of its water is stored - Wurdee Boluc Reservoir (sometimes also spelt Wurdiboluc). This is, I am informed, an Aboriginal (I assume Wathaurong) name meaning "Big Lake". Which is quite appropriate.
Wurdee Boluc Reservoir
For those who haven't been there, the reservoir is located a short distance to the South West of Winchelsea and can be accessed via Cape Otway Road. Water from the Barwon however, takes a somewhat different route in its approach to the reservoir.
From the West Barwon River, Munday Creek and the surrounding catchment areas, water is collected in the West Barwon Dam (capacity 21,504ML) in the Otways as mentioned in previous posts. But where does the water go from there?
Well, initially, it flows downstream a couple of hundred metres at which point water is taken via the West Barwon diversion pipe to the East Barwon diversion weir which also collects water from the East Barwon River. From the weir, water from both rivers is carried via the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel, collecting further flows from several creeks on the way. The channel then makes its way to the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir where up to 38,056ML of water can be stored at one time.
Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel
The reservoir also receives water from the Barwon Downs and the Anglesea borefields. Once in the reservoir, water is then treated before transfer to Geelong and surrounds for use in the domestic water supply.
A view across the reservoir
According to the information board on site, the reservoir (known as an "off-stream storage" facility) was built in 1929. It was further enlarged to cope with increasing demand in 1955 and then again in 1991 to its current capacity. The embankment which surrounds the reservoir is 8.7km in length and the surface area of the whole is some 564 hectares. At its deepest points, it reaches 12m. In total, this system supplies around 70% of Geelong's water requirements.
Wurdee Boluc Reservoir
In addition to providing water to the populace, the reservoir is a popular fishing spot with the locals as well as being home to a healthy-looking population of water birds and a startlingly large number of kangaroos which we were able to see as we walked along the embankment after lunch.
Kangaroos at Wurdee Boluc Reservoir


Kangaroos at the reservoir

First however, we ate our picnic at the Vines Reserve which has a public parking area and picnic tables just off Cape Otway Road and provides public access to the weir.
The reserve - as the board informed - is named for Dr G.J. Geoffrey Vines who joined the Geelong Waterworks and Sewage Trust in 1965 as Senior Design Engineer. Throughout his career and until his eventual retirement as CEO of Barwon Water on 17th June, 1994 - a position he held from 1984. Dr Vines oversaw the development of many major improvements in Geelong's water and sewerage supplies. These included the sewer outfall at Black Rock, the planning and instalment of sewage to several of Geelong's suburbs, the development of the Barwon Downs borefield and the upgrade of the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir and development of its water treatment plant.


A clear winter's afternoon at Wurdee Boluc Reservoir

So, with our knowledge of Geelong's water supply further increased and the sun beginning to drop towards the horizon, we completed our stroll, left the fishermen to their rods and headed for home.

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