Town’s long wait for promised water weir

Tallangatta residents are refusing to stop fighting for the long-proffered but never delivered Narrows Weir, despite the government declaring the project unfeasible. 

Over 60 years ago, the new township of Tallangatta was officially opened, trumpeted as a lakeside town, but nowadays the river often runs dry. 

Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford has confirmed the Narrows Weir Project would not be advancing.

”The assessment found that the benefits of the project do not outweigh the high capital costs, water evaporation losses and the ongoing operational and maintenance costs,” she said.

“Some of the high costs involved in the project would include up to $64.7 million for building the weir, $25 million for a vehicle bridge across the weir, $5 million for a fish ladder and more than $7 million attributed to the cost of water evaporation.

“In addition to these initial expenses, the Narrows would require an ongoing investment of between $110,000 and $125,000 for annual operation and maintenance.”

However Tallangatta Lake Community Action Group chairman Gary Johnson has called for the feasibility study to be reopened.

Mr Johnson believes the $5 million fish ladder was unnecessary as trout could spawn up Tallangatta Creek or Sandy Creek, and Murray Cod would be able to survive downstream even with black water coming from the Dartmouth Dam.

He believes the committee didn’t fully consider the benefits to the region, saying there was scope for resort development, creation of retirement villages or using the weir to generate hydropower. But regardless of the business case, Mr Johnson said the weir has been repeatedly promised to the town, without reservation.

“We want politicians to stand up and listen to what was said,” he said.

“It’s been a long-standing promise. Originally it was promised without reservation, now they say we must have a return on the investment dollar for dollar.”

An online and paper petition has already gained at least 500 signatures from residents who agree with Mr Johnson.

He said with water, investment and tourism Tallangatta could be a regional drawcard.

Mr Johnson believes that the weir project would rejuvenate the town, providing business and employment opportunities to entice young people to stay in their home town.

“If it doesn’t get up, Tallangatta will still go in its slow leisurely way,” he said.

“But what happens when the children grow up and leave for cities or bigger towns? Business will just stagnant.”