27 August, 2012

The eye of the garden

This is another of those posts which draws a rather long bow when it comes to relevance. I might add however, that some of those "less relevant" blogs continue to be quite popular.
On Tuesday, the weather was reasonable (if a little blowy) and the usual bike ride was in the offing. The only problem was of course, that my (off road) cycling route to pretty much everywhere in town was under several feet of water in quite a few places. So, not feeling quite up to swimming the Troop Loop, the next best option was to head for the Bay. It had been a while since we'd ridden that way and in any case, there was a little project I'd been meaning to check out for a while.
Ready to go, we jumped on the Swanston Street bike lane which runs only a couple of hundred metres from my front door and headed north instead of south. With the sun out and the bay sparkling, we were compelled to stop for a coffee and enjoy the view.
Eastern Beach
Morning tea complete, we rode up into Eastern Gardens to investigate a new lake which is under construction. I have been reading about this latest addition to the gardens in the local media for some time but somehow had not managed to go for a look. What we found when we arrived will soon be a pretty little lake which lies in the natural contours of land on what was an under-utilised oval near Holt Road. It twists cleverly between existing established trees, both native and non-native, giving the appearance that it has been present for longer than you might think.
And this, as it turns out, it may almost have been the case. The following description of the project provided on the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) website indicates that in 1925 a lake which was present on the site was filled in to form a cricket oval.
Lake in Eastern Gardens with treatment station to the left
A walking path has been built which runs around the edge of the lake and at present, the whole is surrounded by temporary fencing which will be removed when the works are finished. I believe that there will be more planting around the banks to encourage the local fauna, some of whom - in the form of a couple of Pacific Black Ducks - were already testing the waters while we were there.
And this too is what the contractors are doing. Initial works began in late December, 2011. They were largely completed a few months ago and with the autumn rain, the lake filled. At this point, however it was drained and checked for leakage. All was discovered to be well and the lake is once again filling and expected to be at or near its seven million litre capacity by spring.
New Eastern Gardens lake
And now perhaps, it is time for a few statistics. The lake is more than just ornamental. When it is fully functional, it will serve the important purpose of providing an estimated ninety percent of the water requirements of both the Botanic and Eastern Gardens, reducing their reliance upon the drinking water supply by almost 30 million litres per year. It may also be used to water nearby sports grounds.
View across the lake looking north west
The water which supplies the lake is collected from local storm water runoff from a residential area of East Geelong. The water previously flowed directly into Corio Bay but will now be collected and treated before entering the lake using a combination of physical barriers (litter trap and sand filter) and ultraviolet light. The newly installed indigenous vegetation will also help to reduce nutrient levels.  It is estimated that the water in the lake will replenish itself around twenty times per year, helping avoid stagnation. It will be monitored for mosquito activity, but it is believed that water depth will be too great for breeding.
Funding for the lake, which will cost in the vicinity of $930 million was provided jointly by the CoGG and the Federal Government as part of the council's Sustainable Water Use Plan.

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