Lake Cobrico and Elingamite on road to recovery after peat fires

Work to extinguish the Cobrico peat fire in April. Picture: Rob Gunstone
Work to extinguish the Cobrico peat fire in April. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Water quality in two south-west lakes affected in the devastating St Patrick’s Day fires appear to be improving, new tests shows.

Testing at Lake Elingamite and Lake Cobrico by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) shows that while nutrient levels remain high, early results indicate that levels are trending downward and do not currently pose a risk to the community or the environment. 

DELWP Barwon South West fire recovery co-ordinator Ross Martin said water quality testing was ongoing.

“The samples have been analysed and results compared to the Environment Protection Authority’s results from samples taken during the fires, which provided a comparison to evaluate how the lakes are responding post-fires,” he said.

“Results indicate that nutrient levels are relatively high for the two lakes, however, this is not unusual for a waterway that’s recently been impacted by fire or any inland lake of this kind.”

Mr Martin said limited water quality data prior to the fires made it impossible to determine whether the high nutrient levels in the lakes were caused by the fires. 

“High nutrient levels are common in these types of inland lakes and can vary seasonally and with changes in rainfall,” he said.

“DELWP will continue to test water quality at both lakes to monitor changes against early sampling results and ensure any risks or impacts are identified and addressed as quickly as possible.”

The March 17 fires burnt for weeks in peat at Cobrico.

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