$2m grant gives Lake Sambell a boost

Benambra MP Bill Tilley, Indigo mayor Bernard Gaffney, secretary-treasurer of the Lake Sambell Management Committee Iris Mannik and president Bill van Dorssen in the Chinese Gardens where there are a lot of wet areas caused by the current dam wall leaking. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Benambra MP Bill Tilley, Indigo mayor Bernard Gaffney, secretary-treasurer of the Lake Sambell Management Committee Iris Mannik and president Bill van Dorssen in the Chinese Gardens where there are a lot of wet areas caused by the current dam wall leaking. Picture: TARA GOONAN

LIKE most Beechworth folk, Iris Mannik is waiting for the day the leaking Lake Sambell is returned to its former glory.

The dwindling waterline, though much improved in recent times, is still nothing compared to the sight that greeted her and her children back in the lake’s heyday.

“To see it now in this state is so sad,” she said.

As secretary of the Lake Sambell committee, Mrs Mannik is one of many who has lobbied for the repair of the dam wall.

Yesterday she and her colleagues were rewarded for their efforts, to the tune of $2 million from the Victorian government.

The grant will go towards restoring the wall which has been leaking where it had previously been extended.

Indigo Council will contribute another $500,000 to the project and is seeking tenders for the construction from today, with plans to begin works next year.

Mrs Mannik, who has lived in Beechworth 27 years, said it was news that would be welcomed by the entire town.

“I run into people every day who ask me what’s happening,” she said.

“For this to happen today is marvellous.”

Beechworth residents Don and Margaret Beatson were looking forward to the day they could use the lake for kayaking and scuba diving as they had done frequently.

The couple both swam there as children and remember when the lake was first drained in the 1960s to make it larger.

“We still use it but the water level does limit its uses a bit ... but it’s just such a wonderful spot,” Mr Beatson said.

Benambra MP Bill Tilley and Indigo mayor Bernard Gaffney said it had been “a journey” to get to this point, after the leak came to the government’s attention in 2012.

Repairs could now begin after a series of engineering reports were completed.

“This is a very important step forward for the restoration works,” Mr Tilley said.

Mr Gaffney said Beechworth had its “history, heritage and the lake” and the repairs were essential for not only its water levels but also public safety.

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