WHAT are the best things about Wagga? At the top will be Lake Albert. The Botanic Gardens, the Miniature Railway, favourite sports grounds, the Murrumbidgee River, and Wollundry Lagoon will all get a mention.
But if the Lake is low, Apex Park is no longer a prize picnic spot, the walking track becomes smelly and unattractive, the ducks and birds are gone, there’s nothing to proudly show visitors, and of course there are no boating events to attract money to Wagga.
Lake Albert is estimated to add $23 million to property values in Lake Albert’s surrounding housing areas, but as one of Wagga’s major attractions I would think that the lake would be a major plus for anyone considering relocating to any Wagga suburb.
I’ve lived in Wagga for over 30 years, and in that time I’ve seen the lake look sad on quite a number of occasions.
I know we’ve had droughts.
When I lived in Young we had droughts too, but my tank still provided water for the house and gardens.
Summer storms provide a surprising amount of water, and my house and shed roofs could fill our 5000 gallon tank with any decent downpour.
Temora’s Lake Centenary always looks good. Apparently the secret is run-off from the town. Their lake is built on a creek, so it was explained to me, and all town stormwater is channelled into their lake.
Last week I attended a meeting of the “Water for Lake Albert Group” which has for some time been campaigning for a solution to be found to the Lake’s problems.
I was interested in facts which clarify some of the misconceptions about the lake.
The lake has a fairly flat floor. When full, its depth is between 3.5 and 3.6 metres deep.
The silt layer on the bottom of the lake is stable and so the Lake will not become a swamp in 20 years as some people have argued.
If Lake Albert could be raised by even a small amount it would cool the Lake and reduce evaporation.
A 30cm rise would be quite feasible without presenting problems to the walking path or shoreline.
The committee has been raising funds for a test bore which would indicate whether groundwater could be the solution.
I would expect that, as an “environmental flow”, this water would come without the usual water charges.
Stormwater is another obvious solution, which may be about to receive some action.
I have read a report entitled “Lake Albert Stormwater Harvesting” submitted to council a little more than a week ago.
Later this month councillors will workshop recommendations from that report for a “stormwater diversion structure in the Tatton Drain”, and investigate “opportunities for harvesting additional inflows from the floodplain to the east of Crooked Creek”.
The Tatton Drain solution has been suggested previously, but was rejected in 2011.
The new report recommends the preparation of “a detailed design, specification and cost estimates” which will include flood modelling after this structure was damaged during the 2010 flood.
Solutions for risks such as rubbish in the stormwater will be sought.
The Crooked Creek stormwater proposal also has to consider flooding, and the need for pumping from any collection dam.
Clearly, Lake Albert is in need of a permanent solution.
A city of Wagga’s size should be maintaining this much loved and used facility.
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