Lake Sambell repair to reduce garden

BEECHWORTH will likely lose up to half of its popular Chinese garden due to works to repair the leaking Lake Sambell dam wall.

Indigo Shire mayor Bernard Gaffney conceded yesterday the much-needed repair would affect existing infrastructure, such as the garden.

To counter this, Cr Gaffney wants a new masterplan for the lake and its surrounds to be “community-driven, not council-driven” with a steering committee for the project to soon be formed.

Indigo’s waterways have been a focal point for the Victorian government this past fortnight — the council yesterday received $500,000 in government funding to secure the future of Rutherglen’s Lake King.

That’s on top of the $2 million pledged to the Lake Sambell repairs last week.

Cr Gaffney said there had been “a real buzz of excitement” in Beechworth since that funding had been announced, with the lake’s water levels diminished since the leak was identified in 2012.

Without repairs, there was a real risk of the wall failing if there was a flood, putting people’s lives at risk.

However, the repairs will unavoidably change the existing parks and gardens near the wall, including the Chinese garden, which had largely been a community-driven project.

“We want the community to be aware of that and we want their input on, if changes are made, how we should go about that,” Cr Gaffney said.

The council has set aside $30,000 for a Lake Sambell masterplan, which will be created in conjunction with the Lake Sambell Committee of Management, an Indigo Shire councillor and council staff.

Expressions of interest for landscape architects will also open this month.

The council has allocated $500,000 for the construction, on top of the government’s $2 million.

Cr Gaffney said an exact project cost would not be known until tenders were received.

Construction is hoped to begin next year.

Meanwhile, Rutherglen residents will see improvements to their own leaking lake, Lake King, which has been operating at a reduced level since 2011.

Funding announced yesterday will see the development of landscape plans to keep the lake at that lower level, 20 megalitres, and provide permanent flood mitigation channels.

Murray Valley MP Tim McCurdy and Benambra MP Bill Tilley visited the town for yesterday’s announcement.

Plans for the Lake King improvements will be presented to the residents for feedback in the near future.