Location: Jeff Sykes Rowing Centre, South Geelong.
Friends of the Barwon Chair, Trevor Hodson, welcomed everyone and expressed his Acknowledgement of Country – “I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we meet, the Wadawurrung here in Geelong and also the Eastern Maar to the west – I pay my respect to their elders – past, present and future. I particularly welcome Brodie Hamilton from the Eastern Maar and make an apology on behalf of Greg Robinson and Corrina Eccles of the Wadawurrung, who could not be with us”.
Our Purpose: Briefly stated, is to have a “healthy, flowing and life sustaining Barwon River system which is valued by all the community”.
Present: Geoff Bell, Jane Bartier, Colin Bridges, Sarah Brien, Will Buchanan, Libby Coker, Ian Court, Mary Dracup, Ewen McMillan, Ian Farran, Gavin Gamble, Gill Gartlan, Janet and Lach Gordon, Trent Griffiths, Brodie Hamilton, Liz Hamilton, Trevor and Ros Hodson, Stewart Mathison, Ewen McMillan, Andrea Montgomery, Craig Morley, John Nolan, John Riddiford, Tracey Slatter, Hugh Stewart, Sue Walpole.
Apologies: Jacinta Burke, Brigid Creasey, Cr. Brett Cunningham, Corrina Eccles, Sarah Henderson, Anne Howard, Cr. Des Hudson, Laura Kendall, Evan King, Peter McCracken, Bronwyn Merritt, Jenny Morgan, Mayor Liz Pattison, Chris Potter, Richard Reardon MP, Greg Robertson, Kaye Rodden, Helen Schonfelder, Harriet Shing MP, Kate Simpson, Heather Wellington, David Phillips, Colac Otway Shire meant Councillors.
Minutes: minutes of previous meeting confirmed moved Lach Gordon seconded Trevor Hodson.
Financial Report: Presented by Hugh Stewart (see Attachment 2)
Approved – moved Trevor Hodson, seconded Stewart Mathison.
Election of committee:
Chair: Trevor Hodson nominated by Lach Gordon
Deputy Chair: Sarah Brien nominated by Trevor Hodson
Secretary: no nominees
Treasurer: Hugh Stewart nominated by Stewart Mathison
Committee members: (returning) Andrea Montgomery, Sarah Brien, Lach Gordon, Peter McCracken and (new) Mary Dracup, Trent Griffiths, Ewen McMillan.
All above positions were approved by members and uncontested.
Some changes to FOTB’s Model rules were tabled, discussed and approved by Trevor and seconded by Hugh (see Attachment 1). The changes relate to:
- addition of clauses as recommended by the Register of Environmental Organisations for our application for DGR status.
- additional breakdown of member and sponsor categories.
Meeting closed: 6.45 pm
Guest Speaker: Tracey Slatter, Managing Director, Barwon Water gave a presentation focussed on the Urban Water Strategy/Water for our Future. Tracey gave us a window into the innovative thinking and the way her organisation is listening to and engaging with the community to ensure our water supply is secure for years to come. There were ideas like the North Western Geelong Growth Area (NWGGA) which, through use of integrated water management principles, could become an exporter of water rather than an importer. Another was the potential for waste water instead of drinking water to be used for the manufacture of hydrogen to power heavy duty vehicles and the by-product oxygen to be used to increase the efficiency of treating our waste. Tracey outlined the steps so far to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and indicated ahead of time emissions now have fallen to one-third of those when the work started.
Chair’s report: Trevor Hodson
- Membership and Renewal of Committee
Our membership now exceeds 120 and we have over a thousand followers on social media. Later, we will ask you to look at changes in our membership categories that will allow for a new category – sponsors, as well as allow affiliates that share similar goals to our own to become part of our organisation.
Outgoing Committee Members – Kaye Rodden, Stewart Mathison and Phillip Bade have advised they will be not continuing. Each in their own way has made a significant contribution and they will be missed. Kaye especially needs thanks for being our inaugural President and for reminding us to keep the facts foremost in all our representations.
In light of this I would ask everyone here to be mindful of what they can contribute – all too often much is expected of a few but if you have a skill set that can be of use – stand up for a place on the Committee or speak with Liz if you are interested in helping but don’t want to serve on the Committee.
We are redesigning our website to make it more user friendly. People wanting to join or renew membership will find it easier. Also, whilst on the issue of social media our Facebook page will keep you up to date between Newsletters. One can also make donations on the website and whilst we are currently pursuing our own DGR application, tax-deductible donations can be made to the Friends through Landcare Victoria.
Trevor Hodson provided a good summary of our many achievements during the last 12 months:
- Significant Landscape Overlays (SLO’s) – Shortly before Christmas the Government gazetted a number of SLO’s included in Planning Scheme Amendment VC201 that were in line with previous measures advised for the Yarra River. These measures, in combination with other changes to the Planning Policy Framework updating both Regional and State Planning Guidelines, afford greater protection for the Barwon River and all its tributaries from inappropriate development. This includes addressing issues such as the siting and design of buildings and fences, the removal of vegetation and the undertaking of earthworks. Councils will now have to include these amendments in addition to existing overlays such as those for Cultural Heritage, Flood, Environmental and Vegetation. We asked for this measure when we made our submissions to the Barwon River Ministerial Advisory Committee and it was followed up by the Concerned Waterways Alliance. It is a great step forward.
- Wettenhall Environment Foundation – We were awarded a grant of $30,000 that allowed employment of our Executive Officer – Liz Hamilton.
- Barwon Water Sponsorship – this has facilitated our long-term security by offering a sponsorship of $15,000 annually for six years. This is an untied offer and makes our future more certain.
- Engagement with State election candidates – possibly swung the balance with the SLO’s A follow up meeting is planned with Michaela Settle.
- Meetings with Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar traditional owners to discuss areas of mutual interest and collaboration.
- Results of the Platypus eDNA studies showed pleasing numbers of platypus in the Yarrowee, Leigh and middle Barwon. The study results can be accessed on our website. We are hoping there will be some value adding to this project and that the samples may be analysed to look for various native fish species including the Blackfish.
- Resolution of diversion in western branch of Barwon at Boundary Road, Forrest. This followed from concerns of number of landowners on the Gerangamete floodplains whose land became inundated after a sump upstream of the bridge on Boundary Road broke down. It was noted prior to action being taken, flows measured at the West Barwon reservoir and a gauge in the western branch of the Barwon below the bridge showed a reversal of the normal pattern of higher flows downstream than upstream when the diversion became manifest. In late December, the downstream gauge showed a complete loss of flow in the branch despite water flowing upstream. Pictures of the dry river bed spurred overdue action and within days of receiving a consultant’s report the defect in the sump, producing the diversion and flooding, was sealed. It is interesting to note a report by Alluvium in 2020 suggested problems in this stretch of the western branch but priority was given to works in the eastern branch.
- Submissions to Councils re: Planning Applications – De Goldis Road at Fyansford, River Drive at Teesdale and follow up of remediation works at Motor Cycle Facility at Fyansford, Domestic Wastewater Management Guidelines for Golden Plains Shire.
- Support for “Save the Karaaf” Group. This group is concerned by the impact of stormwater coming off the various estates in Torquay that is changing the character of these once saline wetlands to the detriment of the flora and fauna of this area. It is hoped they will be added to the existing Ramsar sites in the area.
- Liaison with the Friends of the Anglesea River who have concerns about the potential impact of using the Anglesea Borefield as a source of water for Geelong in the same way the Gerangamete Borefield was used in the Millennium Drought with serious consequences for the Boundary Creek.
- Engagement with CCMA and Barwon Water – We are involved in various Community Reference Groups – Kitjarrdja-bul Bullarto Langi-ut (Place of Many stories), Porronggitj Karrong (Place of the Brolga), Community Advisory Committee, Environmental Advisory Committee and Seasonal Watering Advisory CRG’s for upper and lower Barwon.
- Foundation members of the Concerned Waterways Alliance and through them, contributors to the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Waterways Strategy, (SWS), which ultimately led to increased environmental water allocations for the Barwon and Moorabool, though not enough, and to the new SLO’s.
- Concerns raised with Southern Rural Water regarding its mail out to licence holders on behalf of a pastoral company looking to gain water allocations from the Barwon.
Any organisation is only as good as its members. Since our beginnings, four years ago at the Provenance Winery, we have made a name for ourselves as being defenders of the river. We must use our position to continue in this vein.
We must continue to be vigilant. One outcome of the SWS has been the mapping of farm dams on the Moorabool and Leigh Rivers. For years there have been many unlicenced dams built on properties neighbouring these waterways. They severely impact flows in them and the resident species, like Platypus and Short-finned eels. Without appropriate flow, biodiversity is at risk. We owe a big thank you to People for a Living Moorabool (PALM) and the efforts of Cameron Steele for this.
Another matter we must continue to push is how we can encourage the use of all our waste water from sewerage treatment plans. It is not sufficient to just use 20% of this resource, we must use all of it. It is not an easy process to change perceptions about recycled or perhaps better expressed purified water but it is a conversation we have to have. It was specifically dismissed in the SWS. The area covered by the SWS will need an additional 120 Gigalitres over the next ten years or the equivalent of a desalination plant the size of the one built at Wonthaggi. Each of Melbourne Water’s Treatment Plants discharge to sea similar amounts of waste water each year and our own Black Rock Plant discharges about 30 Gigalitres annually or enough for the predicted growth in demand in Geelong for the next decade and beyond. There are potential issues with unwanted forever chemicals, but these can be managed by treating the residual biosolids at high temperatures to produce biochar that has a role in agriculture and possibly in the production of batteries for the future. Interestingly, tonight the Clean Oceans Foundation is holding a public meeting to discuss this very issue of engaging the public to accept the idea that recycled water should be an element of our future water supply.
Thank you, Trevor.
Attachment 1. Proposed changes to FOTB’s Model Rules 2023
These changes are required to Clause 15 Associate members and Clause 14 (2) and will not require renumbering of the rest of the document. The suggested revised wording is as follows
15. Associate members:
(1) Associate members of the Association may include –
(a) any members under the age of 15 years – no voting rights will be accorded.
(b) Group membership – to include not-for-profit groups who support the aims of the Association – up to five
individuals may be nominated by the group, and each would be accorded voting rights as per an Ordinary
Member. An annual fee will be determined at the Annual General Meeting.
(c) Corporate Membership – to include for-profit organisations who support the aims of the Association – no
voting rights will be accorded. An annual fee will be determined at the Annual General Meeting.
(d) Affiliate Membership – to include like-minded Friends and other groups working in the Barwon catchment to
affiliate with the Association and to share logos and resources. Affiliate membership will be at the discretion
of the Committee upon receipt of a request from a group wishing to affiliate. No annual fee will apply and no
voting rights would be accorded.
(e) Corporate or Agency Sponsor – for organisations or agencies wishing to sponsor the Association either by
annual payment, or for the purposes of underwriting a special event, to further the purpose of the
No voting rights would be accorded but any sponsor would enjoy negotiated entitlements including, but not
necessarily limited to, display of their logo and acknowledgement of their sponsorship on the Association’s
website, in the Newsletter and at meetings and events hosted by the Association. The logo will be withdrawn
at the end of the sponsorship period.
(2) An associate member’s rights not covered in the above, will be determined by the Committee or by resolution
at a general meeting. “
We also revised Clause 14 (2) to read –
“A member is entitled to vote if –
(a). A member is a member or an eligible associate member as determined in Clause 15….”.
Additional clauses to be included in the Model Rules under Part 2; Powers of Association, Clause 7: Establishment of a Public Fund, under Clauses:
14. The Fund must not pay any of its profits of financial surplus, or give any of its property, to its member, beneficiaries, controllers or owners (as appropriate).
15. The Fund must have a policy of not acting as a mere conduit for the the donation of money or property to other organisations, bodies or persons.