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The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land and waters of the Upper Barwon River, the Eastern Maar People. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. We are committed to continuing to work in partnership with the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation to ensure their aspirations for the restoration and protection of the Barwon River are achieved.


Welcome to the Spring edition of the Barwon Flagship E news!

Spring is a busy time, and this E-News contains updates and information about a range of activities that are happening in the Barwon Flagship project area over the coming months.

In particular, the Upper Barwon River Forum and Walk on Saturday 22nd October hosted by the Forrest Gerangamete Landcare Group is an event not to be missed! Read the ‘Events’ section below for full details.

Online Survey

We know there are problems with Willows and another weed (Reed Sweet Grass Glyceria maxima) that cause ‘chokes’ and reduce or prevent the flow of environmental water. While we have identified that these issues need to be addressed, we would also like to hear from you about the issues that are important to you.
If you have not already done so I am hoping you will have time to participate in the survey to share your aspirations and what you value about the Barwon River. We will use the survey information to inform the project going forward and will share ‘what we heard’ with the community later in the year.

You can fill in the survey here  
It will be open until the end of October.

If you would like any further details on the survey or would like a copy sent to you via the post, please email

Please note that no names are required and all responses to the survey will remain anonymous.

Further information about the Barwon Flagship Project can be found here: Upper Barwon Flagship Waterway - Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (


The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has identified the Upper Barwon River as the focus for investment as part of our Barwon Flagship Waterway Project. Flagship waterways are large-scale long term rehabilitation projects happening across the state of Victoria, addressing waterway and catchment health.

The Barwon Flagship Project will be delivered as a large scale, long term (30 year) project. During 2022 - 2024 the initial focus of the Flagship Project in the Upper Barwon is about working together with landholders, key agencies, and community groups to develop and implement strategies to enhance riparian management practices and improve the delivery of environmental water further down the Barwon River.


The Barwon Flagship project is a long-term project aiming to improve the health of the Barwon River. 
As part of this, the Corangamite CMA has developed a specifically designed works trial to address the unique challenges in this system. The new riparian works trial has been developed from the findings of a Monash University study (2021). This revealed several barriers to participation in the previous Corangamite CMA funding model of river restoration works in the upper Barwon River catchment.  
Riparian land is the land or vegetation that adjoins a river, creek, estuary, wetland, or lake. The riparian is a ‘buffer zone’ between water and land. Further information about ‘riparian land’ can be found here: Riparian Land - Riparian Land (
A new model is to be trialed with project requirements being different to the past.  
This new riparian works trial will run over 2 years and will capture environmental data as well as participant feedback to assess the value of the new program to the Upper Barwon system.  

A dedicated webpage for the New Riparian Works Trial on the Upper Barwon has just been launched: New Riparian Works Trial on the Upper Barwon - Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (

Fencing on the Barwon River, 2020

What has Changed?
Reduced Buffer Widths 
Buffer widths have halved from of 20 meters to an average of 10 meters.  
Increased Fencing Rates  
Increased fencing rates from $7 per meter to $10 per meter for conventional fences, additional fencing rates for wider buffers and increased flood fencing rate of $12 for lay down fences and $13 for sacrificial fencing including one replacement.  
Controlled Grazing 
Controlled grazing will be allowed in the project site once revegetation is established. This will allow grazing to control weeds on site during the drier months.  
Increased Rates of Weed Control 
Weed control will be funded for 5 years in the project site at a rate of $200 per hectare per year. After 5 years, controlled grazing will be allowed in the site to manage weeds. 
Trees and shrubs will reflect the natural vegetation of the area. A discussion will be had about species selection based on grazing, weed suppression and benefits to waterway.  
Willow Control 
The Corangamite CMA will continue to pay for and organise willow removal when fencing and revegetation are part of the project. 

Contact the Corangamite CMA to discuss how this trial may benefit the river frontage on your property.

Contact Angus Donaldson on or 0409 794 234
Or Kelly Snell on or 0419 603 582


Wet season low flow environmental releases of 7-10ML/d were delivered in the west branch of the Upper Barwon River in mid-late July. Releases were ceased at the end of July due to a jump in the river level and rain forecast.

No more releases have been made to date, ensuring that they do not contribute to flooding risk associated with the West Barwon reservoir spilling in late August and September, and a very wet catchment producing flashy flows following rain events.

Releases from the full environmental entitlement will be re-instated as stream flows decrease and it is safe to do so.


Environmental Water Flows - Corangamite CMA for the Victorian Environmental Water Holder

This is water stored in the West Barwon Reservoir under the Upper Barwon River Environmental Entitlement 2018.

The Upper Barwon Environmental Entitlement was established in 2018 and provides approximately 1,000 ML per year which can be released from the West Barwon Reservoir near Forrest. This is a small amount of water for a big system, but it is hoped that release of this water will assist in maintaining flow and water quality.

It can be released down the East or West Barwon Rivers to support the health of the river.

Environmental water flows are guided by The Upper Barwon, Yarrowee and Leigh Rivers Flows Study (Alluvium 2021) which recommends release volumes and timing. Releases will be either a steady low flow or a pulse of water to trigger an ecological response.

Actual environmental releases take into account the passing and natural flow already present in the river, known channel capacity and climate forecasts.

Release planning for environmental water flows actively avoids flooding of private land, and are often lower than recommended due to known constrictions in the Upper Barwon system.

Natural Flows

 Natural flow:

  • is flow that comes into the river below Barwon Water extraction points and in wet conditions, usually builds as the river progresses downstream.
  • is all the flow in a tributary or the Lower East Barwon River when extraction is not occurring.
  • equals passing flow when the passing flow rules require it, e.g. in summer on the East Barwon River, when storage levels are high.
  • equals the spill from the West Barwon Dam down the West Barwon River when the reservoir is full. There is no reservoir on the East Barwon River.

Passing Flows - Responsibility of Barwon Water

Passing flows are the minimum flow of water that Barwon Water must allow to pass any extraction point on the Upper Barwon system.
Passing flow rules apply to the East and West Barwon Rivers and the other tributary streams that Barwon Water extract from, e.g Callahans, Dewings etc.
The amount that must be passed varies depending on:
  • the river or stream
  • the combined storage levels of Wurdee Boluc and West Barwon Reservoirs
  • the time of year
On the West Barwon River passing flows can be up to 4-5 ML/d.
On the East Barwon River passing flows can range from up to 1-5 ML/d from April to December, but up to 15 ML/d in September when storage levels are high. When storage levels are high, all natural flow must be passed on the East Barwon River between January and March.
Further information on Environmental Water in the upper Barwon River can be found here: Upper Barwon River - Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (


Participants at a Citizen Science ‘Come and Try’ event, June 2022

In this e-newsletter, we want to share some upcoming learning opportunities for Corangamite CMA citizen scientists.

Come and Try Waterwatch on the Barwon River at Birregurra.

Are you interested in monitoring long term water quality in the Barwon River near Winchelsea, Birregurra and Forrest? Volunteers are needed to measure parameters such as oxygen content, salinity and water clarity on a monthly basis.

If you live in the Upper Barwon catchment area you may be interested in this training event in partnership with Upper Barwon Landcare Network. We will conduct in-field water quality tests and learn about waterway conditions.


9:30 - 11:30am
Wednesday 23rd November
Barwon St, Birregurra

To attend this event, please RSVP to and advise of any accessibility needs by 18th November. 

Barwon Waterbug Surveys 

Corangamite CMA and Upper Barwon Landcare Network are also hosting Barwon Waterbug Surveys at various locations. Upper Barwon locals are asked to become citizen scientists for a morning to monitor the health of the Barwon River.

The waterbug survey, measuring diversity and abundance of animals, will give information of waterway condition.

All instruction and equipment is provided, no experience is necessary, and data will be added to a national database of waterbugs – the National Waterbug Blitz database.

Bring wet weather gear, walking boots, gum boots if you have them, water bottle and hat.

See the ‘Events’ section below for the dates.
If you would like more information on any Citizen Science projects or would like to get involved, please contact Deirdre Murphy, Corangamite CMA, by or phone 0418 145 818 


  • Upper Barwon Landcare Network’s Feral Pig & Deer Control Workshops
Friday 14 October, 10 – 11am
Yan Yan Gurt West
Further details can be found in the Upper Barwon Landcare Network update below.
  • ‘What’s going on with our River?’ – Information session and River walk
Saturday 22 October, 10am – 3pm
Forrest Public Hall
Hosted by the Forrest Gerangamete Landcare Group, in partnership with Upper Barwon Landcare Network, Barwon Water and Corangamite CMA. This is your opportunity to learn about the health of the Upper Barwon River, what is being done to restore it, and what can be done. Bring your questions and walking boots!
More info can be found in the Forrest Gerangamete Landcare Group update below

Further details can be found here




Freshwater ecosystems provide critical ecosystem functions for both humans and the environment but are often highly affected by human activities, including climate change. For freshwater systems to continue providing valuable ecosystem function and services, the protection of undamaged waterways and restoration of degraded systems requires that interventions be supported by both strong scientific understanding and coordinated stakeholder engagement. In a Southern Australian context, this is complicated by severe degradation, the presence of invasive Salix spp. (willows) across river frontages, and the long timescales required to restore these systems.

Water quality sample collection near willows and Glyceria spp.

In the Spring and Summer of 2021, as part of a PhD project, we visited streams across the Upper Barwon Catchment to collect data on water quality, in-stream vegetation, vegetation in the riparian zone, and channel morphology measurements.
The sites we visited consisted of riparian vegetation that was either dominated by willows, replanted native vegetation, or a thin strip of blackwood, and the sampling we performed was designed to collect data for two research questions:
  • How does riparian vegetation influence water quality, stream morphology, and in-stream vegetation?
  • How does the removal and revegetation of willows along a stream influence water quality, stream morphology, and in-stream vegetation?
To answer the first question, over the Spring and Summer of 2021 we visited 3 revegetated sites, 3 sites with blackwood, and 4 sites with willows, that were spread across 5 streams in the Upper Barwon Catchment.

Stream channel measurements at a willow site

In April 2022, these sites were visited again for repeated measurements of channel Morphology. This part of the project involves measuring the channel area of the stream at fixed transects over time to quantify differences in stream bed erosion and accretion.

Over the Winter, we analysed these preliminary results to investigate the differences between streams that may be due to the influence of different vegetation in the riparian zone, or the surrounding land-use. Based on these analyses, this Spring and Summer we will return to repeat the collection of data at some sites, and to include data from new sites and streams in the Upper Barwon Catchment. By revisiting some sites, we will be able to compare the results from 2021, with the results collected from sites in 2022 and gain a better picture of these differences across a larger part of the catchment.

To answer the second question, last year (2021) we collected samples along the East Barwon River prior to willow removal and revegetation undertaken by Barwon Water. We also collected extra samples from 4 sites with willows along the East and West Barwon River as well as Dewings Creek for comparison. These are considered ‘control’ streams, given that they are not receiving any current willow removal or revegetation works.

The expectation (hypothesis) is that we will see greater changes in our measurements in the East Barwon River following the restoration works compared with our other three willow control sites over time. The rate and extent of any changes remain the great unknowns. Irrespectively of what happens in the short-term (i.e. the next three years) while the revegetation becomes established, our sampling program provides an incredibly important foundation and basis for future sampling that can track and changes that are likely to be attributable to the revegetation works on the East Branch, and also whether conditions are changing in each of the control locations.

Stream channel measurements following willow removal
This year (2022), we will return to repeat the collection of data now that the willows have been removed along the East Barwon River.  The goal of this sampling is to determine whether the removal of the willows has started to influence water quality, in-stream vegetation, and channel morphology. We will also visit a section of the West Barwon River that has been cleared of the invasive, pest plant Glyceria spp. by the Corangamite CMA to measure the changes there as well.

This is an exciting area of research as there few studies that investigate the immediate impacts of willow restorations on streams. The collection of data both before and after works is rare. Combined, these two research goals aim to create a picture of how willow restoration influences stream dynamics in the short-term, together with how different riparian vegetation might influence river health in the long-term, years after restorations have taken place. The goal of this research will be to contribute supporting knowledge for future riparian restoration projects.






West Barwon Reservoir update
The West Barwon Reservoir supplies drinking water to the greater Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast areas.  At capacity the reservoir holds almost 21,500 million litres of water, enough for approximately six months’ supply of drinking water.

It is the largest catchment reservoir in the Barwon Water region and is the main source of water from the Barwon System, which supplies up to 80% of the drinking water for the greater Geelong region.

Ongoing rainfall in the West Barwon catchment combined with a wet winter has led to ongoing high levels at the West Barwon Reservoir.

Recent spilling at the West Barwon Reservoir

In mid to late September, the reservoir started spilling again, the third time for 2022.  Reservoirs are designed to spill when full, with water passing into natural waterways and supplementing flows, helping to support the ecological health of our catchments.

Given the high winter rainfall and high storage levels and likelihood of wet weather over spring, it is anticipated that further spill events will occur at the West Barwon Reservoir for the rest of 2022.   
Barwon Water will continue to monitor the reservoir levels and weather closely, and work with local agencies to share information and current forecasted spilling and any future spill events for the rest of the year.
Under Barwon Water’s bulk entitlement to use water from the Upper Barwon catchment for drinking supplies, water transfers from the West Barwon Reservoir to the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir will be carefully managed depending on rainfall, flows in the East Barwon River and the capacity of the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir
Visitors are welcome at West Barwon Reservoir, Barwon Water encourages all visitors to take care and observe all safety advice and signage.  This includes sticking to designated walking paths and tracks, observing permitted reservoir recreation activities including bird watching, fishing from the bank, bike riding and bushwalking.  Swimming or any on water activities are not permitted at the reservoir.
For more information on the reservoir and how it works, please visit: West Barwon Reservoir | Your Say at Barwon Water or head along to the upcoming Forrest Gerangamete Landcare event What’s Going On With Our River?  

East Barwon Willow Removal and Restoration project update

Barwon Water is continuing to work with local landowners, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) and specialised consultants and experts to remove willows and restabilise a section of the East Barwon River to support water security and waterway health.
The issue of invasive weeds is complex and we are working with landowners and neighbouring property owners, the CCMA, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Eastern Maar on a shared land management approach to effectively manage the issue.
During August 2022, specialised contractors planted more than 37,000 native shrubs, grasses and trees along the river bank of the East Barwon River following the removal of willows earlier this year. The replanting of native vegetation is a really important part of the project and will help stabilise the streambank, reduce harmful pathogens (organisms that cause disease) and nutrients entering the waterway and limit the spread of Glyceria.

Barwon Water revegetation works on the East Barwon River
Barwon Water will continue to monitor the water transfers from West Barwon Reservoir to the Wurdee Boluc Inlet Channel via the East Barwon River to ensure the integrity of the riverbank stabilisation is maintained.

Stage 2 of the project, is progressing well with the detailed design of the realignment of the East Barwon River and further willow removal confirmed.  A Cultural Heritage Assessment was also recently completed.

Stage 2 works are expected to commence and be completed over the 2023/2024 summer period.

For more information on the project, please visit: East Barwon Willow Removal and Restoration Project | Your Say at Barwon Water

The Barwon River Flagship project, is a large scales, long term (30 year) waterway rehabilitation project, currently focused on the Upper Barwon (East and West branch) and Dewings Creek. 

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The Corangamite CMA acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land and waters on which we work, and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging

Enquiries to Corangamite CMA (03) 52329100 or email

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