A $22 million project to improve water quality in Griffith’s beleaguered Lake Wyangan is underway, but the local council warns it will take years to complete. 

Key points:

  • Griffith City Council will build a pipeline to Lake Wyangan in an effort to improve water quality
  • The lake is being investigated for potential links to motor neurone disease
  • A combined $7 million from the federal government and the council will kickstart the process

A federal government grant of $3.475m for the lake project was announced this week as part of the National Water Grid Connections program.

Griffith City Council will match the federal funding, kickstarting the first stage of the multi-million-dollar plan for the waterway, which was formed in the 1950s using the remains of a gypsum mine and a natural swamp area.

In recent years, the lake —  in the heart of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area — has been affected by salinity, fish kills and large-scale blue-green algae outbreaks, which are being investigated for potential links to motor neurone disease

A warning sign by lake wyangan waters saying harmful algae may be present and warning against swimming or fishing and dogs there

Blue-green algae warning signs are located all around Lake Wyangan. (

ABC News: Rachel Carbonell

)

Griffith City Council general manager Brett Stonestreet outlined how the council hoped the lake’s water quality could be improved by mixing water from several sources.

He said the first stage of the project would include building a pipeline from the city’s water reclamation plant to south Wyangan Lake, in a bid to retain the northern portion of the lake for recreation purposes. 

Mr Stonestreet said the south lake would be used as a “working lake”.

“We’re going to essentially use that as a mixing pond,” he said.

“The water from the reclamation plant will come into the south lake, there’ll be some fresh water coming in from the Murrumbidgee irrigation supply network and there’ll also be some shandied water coming in from the north lake into the south lake.

Pipeline years away

The Griffith City Council has been working on the proposal for around four years and Mr Stonestreet has described the project as a complex solution to a complex problem.

“Certainly the level of salinity (sic) is too high and that needs to be reduced to have meaningful improvement out there,” he said. 

aerial view of the shores of lake wyangan showing green water, weeds and dead trees

Lake Wyangan on the outskirts of Griffith. (

ABC News: Ben Deacon

)

Mr Stonestreet said the second stage of the project would involve building pipelines to nearby farms for irrigation, as well as controlling sediment.

“We’ve already had an indication from the government that they will provide significant assistance towards preparing the detailed business case,” he said.

Mr Stonestreet said while funding for the first stage of the initiative was now secure, construction was still a way off.

“Environmental impact statements will certainly need to be carefully undertaken, detailed design … and engineering works will have to be undertaken, but we’re looking with the next couple of years to have the project on the ground,” he said.

Mr Stonestreet said the $22m project would have numerous benefits.

“There’ll be environmental outcomes in terms of improving the water quality, there’s going to be recreational outcomes for the community to enjoy that lake again and just the ecology in general.”

Posted , updated 

In the pipeline: $22m ‘water cocktail’ project underway at Lake Wyangan
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