Blocked Lake Gillear drainage channel causing a headache for property owners

WET: Ben Holloway stands in one of his paddocks, which has flooded due to a blocked drainage channel. The flooding will cost the Allansford dairy farmer upwards of $60,000.Picture: Christine Ansorge

WET: Ben Holloway stands in one of his paddocks, which has flooded due to a blocked drainage channel. The flooding will cost the Allansford dairy farmer upwards of $60,000.Picture: Christine Ansorge

A BLOCKED drainage channel is causing havoc for land owners in Allansford.

The Standard reported on Wednesday the Warrnambool Motorcycle Club had to cancel an event and could not practise at its track due to flooding. 

The issue has been ongoing over the past decade, with land owners calling on the water authorities to clear the blocked drain, which runs from Lake Gillear to the Hopkins River.

Dairy farmer Ben Holloway said he had “two lakes” on his farm, which were actually paddocks.

“It was all shut up for silage about three weeks ago and now it’s (fence) post high with water,” he said.

“It’s about 70 acres and with lost silage, reseeding and associated costs it will cost us around 60 to 70 grand this season. We will have to buy feed in.”

At times Mr Holloway and his family have had to drive through half-a-metre of water to get their property.

He said a few years back he had resorted to clearing out a section of the drain himself, and then copped a bill from the CMA for not having a permit.

“We cleared our own section of the drain at our own cost and so have a couple of our neighbours,” he said.

“We’ve had no luck whatsoever in getting the channel from the lake cleaned out to the river. I got a ‘please explain’ in the mail asking why I cleaned it out. I had to pay a $300 fee to get a permit.”

He said there was a workable solution, however contact with Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority had not seen a resolution.

“All us land holders are prepared to put in five, even 10 thousand dollars and pool the money to get it done, but there is that much red tape,” he said. “It’s time to sort out the issue. Surely with 60 or 70 grand we could get something done. We know when it rains it will flood. If the drain was clean it would get away out to the river and the ocean, but at the moment it just sits there, sometimes for months. It’s all choked up.”

He said it was most disappointing for the motorcycle club, which would bring economic benefits to Warrnambool. “There big meet would have to bring money to the town,” he said.

Mr Holloway believes most of the clearing work could be done with an excavator.

“There’s only one section at Hopkins Point Road that you would have to do in a summer or have a special excavator because it is so deep,” he said. “It’s not a hard job. We just can’t understand why. trying to get anything done is pretty tough.” 

CMA says it’s not responsible for works

The Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority says it has no responsibility for the Lake Gillear channel, despite it being a designated waterway.

The blockage is preventing Warrnambool Motorcycle Club from practising or running an event on Sunday.

“The CMA is not aware of any formal investigations into the most effective means of alleviating flooding at this site (Warrnambool Motorcycle Club track) and it would be appropriate for the land manager to undertake such an investigation to inform a decision on any works that could be undertaken and what approvals would be required and who would fund such works,” it said.

“If improving the capacity of the drain on the south side of the track is identified as the most effective way of reducing flooding on this site then the land manager may request approval to increase the drain’s capacity. Any works within it trigger the requirement for a works on waterways licence, issued by the CMA. It is the responsibility of the landowner or responsible manager to undertake any such works. The CMA is not responsible for undertaking works on this drain nor in the drainage scheme.”