Three gentlemen stand atop a gushing storm water drain.
Rain is pelting down in every direction, but that’s not the reason why they are irritated. In fact, they welcome the rain.
The source of their anger, they say, is “crucial” water is being lost to the Murrumbidgee River.
“In the last three weeks we have had over 120 millilitres of rain, which is a lot of water, and every scrap of it has bypassed the lake,” Friends of the Lake committee member Ron Lewington said.
“We’ve had two major rain events and now our wet season is nearly over. We’re coming up to summer.”
The continued campaign to alert attention to Lake Albert’s “desperately low” water levels ramped up on Wednesday, with the formation of a working group designed to force city council’s hand on the issue.
The charge is being led by Wagga Boat Club commodore Michael Henderson, who has become frustrated at an apparent lack of action since a community meeting was held earlier this year.
The working group has thrown up a number of solutions to restore water levels, but they are calling on council to immediately implement a “no-brainer” solution.
Mr Henderson said the first priority was to see the reinstallation of three gates at a nearby storm water drain to redirect the flow of water back into the lake.
“We don’t have to buy that water – it is already there,” he said. “There is no rocket science in this. It’s a cheap initiative that can be implemented immediately.”
The group said other issues to be addressed include approval to sink a test bore; a council re-evaluation of previous proposals and their cost; a review into lost storm water from surrounding developments; an assessment of downstream water capture and pump return to the lake and further studies on upstream natural catchments as a source for water.
Concerned resident and former Wagga MP Joe Schipp said it was rare for any suburbia to have its own water body.
“The value of Lake Albert to Wagga is huge,” he said.
“This would be one of the highest priority natural assets that Wagga has got. It is an environmental asset that needs to be protected and it’s not getting the priority that it should.”
Mr Henderson said the lake was a drawcard for tourists and, crucially, tourism dollars.
In May, the annual Barry Carne Ski Memorial Classic was cancelled for the fourth time in nearly as many years because of low water levels.
“It’s low on their radar and it needs to be increased several levels,” he said.
“It’s Wagga’s economy going down the drain.”
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