People power: volunteers achieve big things at Walker Swamp

‘Many hands make light-ish work’, so we are very thankful, and very impressed, by everyone who lent a helpful hand (or two) sandbagging the new regulator at Walker Swamp. The filling and placement of 2500 sand bags may have set a new NGT record! But we did a lot of homework first.

A very thorough hydrological study informed the decision to raise the sill level of the swamp another 50 cm above the temporary regulator height (put in place three years ago). Some nifty 2D hydrological modelling by Lachie showed the new water level would  fill an extensive region of the Walker Swamp floodplain.

We also had two highly qualified volunteers (Brenton Puddy and Michael Talanskas) help survey the drain profile for the new regulator and its spill height, and most importantly checked these heights against existing levee heights, verifying the accuracy of the terrain and 2D modelling.

Surveying for the new regulator

That brought us to the next ingredient – a mere 90 cubic metres of sand to form the regulator. Easy! All we had to do was fill over 2500 geofabric bags with 64 tonne of sand, and then use the bags to build the regulator – all before the season broke and the wet-cycle resumed.

More willing and able volunteers to the rescue!

NGT stalwarts Lachie, Mark and Greg, ably assisted by Mark’s son Dale, spent a day setting the foundations in place in preparation for the big team of workers.

Day 1: Building the foundations

A team of 12 volunteers (Lisa McIntyre, Rosemary Wray, Sarah Patterson, Tom Ferguson, Doug Craig, Jo (Dixie) King, Rod Bird, Trevor Flynn, Peter Hocking, Paul Yule and Pauline Yule) assisted by a crew of eight from the Landmate group, and eight NGT staff, filled and placed the bags in a day and a half – what an effort!

Day 2: The crews work on filling the sandbags
… and soon a systematic approach evolves
Mid afternoon on day 2 and the regulator is growing fast…
… and people are still smiling at the end of a big day
End of the sandbags, now for the final touches
Add a face of rocks on the spillway, fill the drain through the wetland and restore the natural wetland bed and you have the final product. Time for some rain…

With heavy rains over the last week, we look forward to tracking the effect of the regulator on future water levels as our incredible crew’s efforts are put to the test. Check out the time lapse photography:

Thank you to the ‘Victorian Climate Change Innovation’ grants and ‘Our Catchments, Our Communities’ program of the Victorian Government’s Water Program Investment Framework Program (VWPIF). The Victorian Government has committed funding of $222 million over four years to ensure Victoria’s waterways and catchments support environmental, social, cultural and economic needs and the values of our communities. which funded the on-ground works for this project.
Greg Kerr