Riparian Restoration Collaborative Project

In 2009, during a period of waterway restoration and willow tree removal at Melbourne Water, a joint-riparian restoration project was established with Vic Roads in Ballarat. This was initiated to clean up and restore a 500 metre section of degraded waterway along the Werribee River on Western Highway, upstream of Ballan Township. This high profile road reserve was choked with willows. Melbourne Water collaborated with Vic Roads to remove and revegetate the easement.

To ensure limited soil disturbance, we engaged NRM contractor “Platypus”, who used a mechanical machine able to reach and grab, cut and mulch. Each willow stump was then painted with herbicide and the entire 500 metre section was cleared of willows for under $20k within a few days.

The site was bare for a time and dishevelled. However, before long, the creek displayed vibrant aquatic health, teeming with water bugs and frogs, a sure sign we were going in the right direction with this project. Melbourne Water and Vic Roads staff gathered the following winter for planting additional trees, and to our delighted surprise, the Blackwoods had already started regenerating since the willow removal!

Almost seven years have passed since the waterway works were completed with a number of mixed native trees planted along the riparian zone. It has clearly transformed this waterway reach with a diversity of native species, and it’s a living example of what can be achieved when working in partnership to achieve greener outcomes

The Werribee River is a waterway of utmost importance in the west and is in pristine condition in the headwaters, just a few kilometres upstream in the beautiful Wombat State forest. This project has since inspired the landowner downstream to join the Melbourne Water Stream Frontage program and from there extended its inspiration further downstream throughout the township of Ballan.

The future ideal is to inspire landholders to get involved in association with their local Landcare group so that existing gaps in the Werribee River can be undertaken both upstream of the Western Highway and continued downstream on private land from Ballan township.

When travelling along the Western Highway, I’m proud in the work undertaken and restoration outcomes that followed from the collaborative partnerships involved.

Frank Carland (Vic Roads Ballarat) frank.carland@roads.vic.gov.au
Darren Coughlan (ex Melbourne Water) dcoughlan@citywestwater.com.au

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