Geelong’s water supply will be secured and the environment protected by limiting groundwater extraction in the Otways to a bare minimum.

Minister for Water Lisa Neville today reduced the limit on how much water can be taken from the Gerangamete Groundwater Management Area (GMA) from 20,000 megalitres per year to just 239 megalitres per year.

The limit on taking water from the neighbouring Gellibrand GMA, that shares a common recharge area with Gerangamete GMA, has been set at zero.

This decision cuts the Permissible Consumptive Volumes (PCV) – the amount of groundwater that can be extracted – to allow for the much-needed recovery of the Gerangamete groundwater resource and its surrounding environment and ecosystems.

This amendment will support Barwon Water’s critical remediation works to improve and protect the health of Boundary Creek, Big Swamp and the surrounding environments.

Importantly, three local farmers who have access to the groundwater will not be impacted by the reduction, with the limit for the Gerangamete GMA set to cover the total volume of these existing licenses.

The PCV also includes provision for a small quantity of water per year to be used for pump testing and maintenance – and access for emergencies can also be facilitated.

Setting the limit at just two per cent of what was originally permitted to be taken from the area ensures the environment is being protected and the groundwater can recover.

Feedback from local communities suggested concerns that the current extraction level was compromising the health of waterways and ecosystems in the area. This is the outcome of a 2018 review ordered by Minister Neville to assess the Gerangamete PVC.

Waterfall surrounded by ferns in the Otways National Park

Great Otway National Park. Photo credit: Robert Blackburn courtesy of Visit Victoria.