By Brooke Haffenden
A LOCAL resident has slammed council for draining water from the lakes in Laurimar to irrigate the sports grounds at Laurimar Recreation Reserve.
For the past 10 years Robin Gipps has lived in the local area and each year is dismayed by the actions of City of Whittlesea Council officers.
Ms Gipps told the Whittlesea Review she has seen council officers drain the water down to the bottom of the lake on a number of occasions.
“You can see the bottom of the lake, it’s awful. It’s very disheartening to see that,” Ms Gipps said.
“The council have made this beautiful lake only for it to be drained out.”
With many birds such as Black Swans and Pelicans using the lakes, Ms Gipps said she was concerned for the future of wildlife.
Upset about the “irreversible damage” to bird life and vegetation, Ms Gipps contacted Melbourne Water with her complaint and said she wants action now or she’s “going higher”.
“I hope Whittlesea can never pump there again,” she said.
“I used to breed birds and I really enjoy the birds (at the lakes). It’s a part of the estate. I love to walk around and look at the lakes.
“Doesn’t anybody care? Am I the only one saying something?
“I just hope we get a good outcome from this. I hope it doesn’t happen again… And, I hope there hasn’t been irreversible damage. I hope Whittlesea (Council) don’t weasel their way out of this.”
Acting Team Leader, Regional Services (West Region, Maribyrnong), Glen Stewart confirmed that Melbourne Water is working closely with Whittlesea Council to establish a sustainable program of stormwater harvesting from Laurimar Wetlands in Doreen.
“Stormwater harvesting and re-use can help to reduce pressure on our drinking water supply, however an appropriate balance is necessary to ensure that animal habitat and visual amenity of impacted wetlands are also maintained,” Mr Stewart said.
“We look forward to formalising an arrangement that benefits the entire community and preserves the health of the Wetlands, which are home to a range of native plants and animals.”
City of Whittlesea Council Manager Parks and Open Spaces Lisa Pittle said there is a licence to draw water from the lake which is used to irrigate the sports grounds at Laurimar Recreation Reserve.
“The development at Laurimar including the drainage system and wetlands and the lake were constructed and handed over to Council more than 10 years ago,” Ms Pittle continued.
“Capturing and using road surface drainage through a wetland and lake system is a significant way of drought proofing local sports grounds and reusing storm water instead of drinking water.
“The ability to draw water from the lake is set at an approved level and this level has not been reached.”
Ms Pittle added that constructed wetlands are designed to similarly adapt to changing water levels and the level of the water in the lake has dropped due to low rainfall.
Passionate about the cause, Ms Gipps said she will continue to pursue the issue until council can longer pump water out of the lakes.