Warrnambool's Bromfield Street weir on the Merri River will be removed as part of the Victorian government's efforts to rehabilitate regional waterways.
The Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority will carry out the $772,000 project, which it aims to complete in 2023.
The government identified the poor health of the Merri and Hopkins rivers as a "flagship project" for rehabilitation in its $248 million state-wide catchment improvement program. The weir removal funding comes on top of the $1.02 million pledged in February to resurrect the rivers.
The project is still in its early stages as Glenelg Hopkins CMA speaks with waterfront landholders, but has been fully signed off by the state government.
Glenelg Hopkins CMA chief executive Adam Bester said the removal of the weir formed an important part of the wider restoration project and would benefit everyone who used the river.
"Removing the weir will benefit native fish, which will be a boon for recreational anglers and the environment," he said.
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He said the structure was a relic of a previous era that needed to be removed.
"The weir was originally constructed for Warrnambool's water supply in 1907 and was used until the Otways supply was constructed. It's quite an unsafe structure to have in town and we know that several people have unfortunately drowned there.
"This is an opportunity make the river safer for the community."
The project will also assist with Warrnambool City Council's Merri River transformation plan, which received $400,000 in February to build a network of walking tracks and canoe and kayak access points along the river.
Kayak and canoe users will no longer have to disembark and drag their watercraft around the low concrete dam.
Platypus ecologist Josh Griffiths from research organisation EnviroDNA said the project could be a boon to the precious local platypus population.
"I don't anticipate removal of this weir to have any detrimental impacts on resident platypus and may result in improved conditions for platypus due to more natural flows, and habitat improvement following additional works," Mr Griffiths said.
Local fishing journalist and researcher Scott Gray said the weir removal was an essential part of the efforts to restore the Merri River to its former glory.
"This will complement the extensive work done by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA, other local management agencies and local community groups over many years to improve environmental conditions, water quality and riparian and instream habitat within the catchment," Mr Gray said.
Modelling undertaken by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA apparently shows "minimal impact on water height" of around 1m along the river from removing the weir.
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