Lake plans concerns

CONCERNS: Pelicans nesting at the southern end of Lake Meran.

CONCERNS: Pelicans nesting at the southern end of Lake Meran.

A GROUP of Lake Meran farming district residents are concerned about the management of their lake.

They are calling for a public forum to discuss the management of the Lake Meran community complex.

Local farmer, Stephen English said locals have grown concerned over plans which have already been signed off by the North Central Catchment Management Authority, and said there has not been enough community consultation on the matter. 

"Lake Meran to date has gone through a process that has been closed to the broader public, particularly the recreational users," he said.

Group member John Pike said that there was a wealth of local knowledge that was not being utilised in the CMA's plan.

"There are families who have been here longer than the Millennium droughts, who know what has worked for the lake, but have not been involved in it [the management plan]," he said.

Mr English said that the plan does not allow for sufficiently high lake levels and said that they raise concerns over leisure, irrigation, and environmental issues for the lakes.

The current plan lays out the lake levels at depths which would leave the southern basin of Lake Meran exposed three years in five, as well as render the diving tower on the north side of the lake unusable for four years out of five.

Mr English described the southern basin as an area with huge environmental potential, describing it as a miniature Kakadu.

Other concerns include the impact of lowered water levels on irrigation viability, and salinity, especially with the increased vegetation that grows in the lake bed, which can contribute of black-water events.

Lake Meran experienced a black-water event in January of this year when thousands of fish died when rotting vegetation diminished the oxygen levels in the water. 

The group has laid out a five-point agenda for a proposed forum, including the need for a transparent consultation process, the need for higher lake levels, the need for a renewed focus on the southern basin, the potential for better environmental outcomes than the current plan allows for, and the potential for better recreational outcomes. 

The group has requested that Gannawarra Shire Council facilitate the forum.

Shire infrastructure services director, Geoff Rollinson said that council has been trying to work with the community and the responsible authorities over a number of years.

"Tourism and economic development is important to the Gannawarra Shire and beautiful lakes like Lake Meran add to the appeal of the district", he said.

Mr Rollinson said that he had suggested that the Lake Meran could give councillors a presentation at a briefing to give them a better understanding of their concerns.

Mr English said yesterday that the group was agreeable to providing a presentation and hoped that council would then be agreeable to facilitate a public forum to allow the broader community to express their views.

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