Lake Natimuk Weir consultation
In 2016, a project to replace the existing Lake Natimuk outlet structure with a new weir was initiated by the Natimuk Lake Foreshore Committee of Management. The weir works were on Parks Victoria-managed land, which triggered a formal approval process involving various agencies and organisations.
In late 2022, Parks Victoria sought community feedback to confirm if there was broad support for the works. If supported, Parks Victoria committed to complete the works.
What is the current status of the project?
The Lake Natimuk Weir works will be completed, following community consultation in late 2022. Parks Victoria opened public consultation on the plan to complete the weir in late 2022. More than 900 people responded to survey, with the vast majority supporting the project. First started in 2016, the project was put on hold while the potential for impact on significant environmental values of Lake Natimuk were investigated, approval processes followed, and funding sought.
In consultation with Lake Natimuk Foreshore Committee, Parks Victoria decided that the water level of the new weir would be set at the same level as the old one. The water level of Lake Natimuk when at full capacity will remain the same, with improved infrastructure making the weir safer and more secure.
Parks Victoria will continue to work with the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation to ensure the new weir meets all obligations in line with cultural heritage management and protection requirements.
The network of wetlands around Natimuk has immense environmental significance as a habitat for birds, particularly waders. Like many lakes in Australia, Lake Natimuk is ephemeral, naturally cycling through periods of being dry, periods of shallow water levels and periods of higher, deeper water levels.
What has happened since 2016?
The Wimmera CMA commissioned an Ecological Impact Report, which included desktop and on-ground field assessments to identify the biological values at Lake Natimuk and the connecting Natimuk Creek. This assessment also considered the results and the ecological impact of increasing the operating water level in Lake Natimuk by raising the outlet weir structure by 700mm. It was determined the water in the weir will not be higher than the old weir level.
What has been the outcome of Parks Victoria’s risk assessment on the proposed weir?
The risk assessment highlighted several outstanding environmental and infrastructure impacts if the height was to be raised:
- potential for reduced availability of shallow water and mudflat habitat for shorebirds
- potential for inundation of significant vegetation in the upstream Natimuk Creek reserve and Lake Natimuk’s established and protected fringing red gum vegetation
- potential for inundation of BBQ area in the COM managed foreshore area, minor areas of two adjacent private properties and sections of the Big Sky Bicycle Trail
- potential for bank erosion on the eastern shore due to wave action at high lake levels and possibly damage to the lakeside.
Parks Victoria decided that the height of the weir will not be raised to mitigate the risks outlined above.
What were the outcomes of the community consultation?
Parks Victoria opened public consultation on the plan to complete the weir in late 2022. More than 900 people responded to survey, with the vast majority supporting the project.
How could the community provide feedback?
An online survey was made available from 1 - 28 October 2022. Designed to gain a better understanding how people experienced Lake Natimuk and their opinions regarding completion of the partially constructed weir structure. It was widely promoted through the Natimuk community social media channels and local media. Hard copies of the survey were available from the Natimuk Post Office.
900 people responded to the survey (786 online, 214 hard copy). Of those who participated, 90% were from Natimuk, Horsham or Nhill. 45% female. 55% male.
Age demographics were as follows:
- 20% of people responding were over the age of 60
- 15% between 50 and 60
- 19% between 40 and 50
- 21% between 30 and 40
- 23% between 20 and 30
- 2% under 20.
What information was presented?
People were asked whether the proposed works would:
- contribute to the economic prosperity of Natimuk
- support community connections and gatherings
- support appropriate recreational activities for the area
- was appropriate for the local environment and landscape
During the consultation period, Natimuk received significant rainfall with water reaching the bottom of the partially constructed weir. The lake had been dry for over ten years prior to this rain event.
What were the key themes?
Of the people surveyed, the vast majority felt that the
- contribute to the economic prosperity of the town (94%).
- would support community connections and gatherings (95%)
- support appropriate recreational activities for the area (94%)
- was appropriate for the local environment and landscape (94%)
Managing Country Together
Parks Victoria works with the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation as the Registered Aboriginal Party for this area.