This is an overview of the measures Council has explored or put in place in the past decade, often in partnership with the State Government, other agencies and the community, to restore the Lake. 

Watch the Harnessing Ballarat's Stormwater Project Video 

Water Supply HistoryTop of document.

1993 - 1994

Central Highlands Water (CHW) begins to disinfect Ballarat's water supply with chlorine - consequently it can no longer be used to 'top up' Lake Wendouree.

An alternative source of water is provided from the Gong Gong Reservoir by extending a redundant water main to Lake Wendouree - allowing annual 'top ups' to continue.

The Lake Wendouree Landscape Masterplan is adopted by Council.

1995 - 1996

Council begins to explore alternative water supply options, knowing that the cast iron pipeline from the Gong Gong Reservoir requires substantial restoration.

Council and CHW agree that water from the Gong Gong can be withheld from the Lake if necessary to ensure Ballarat's potable supply has adequate reserves.


Council's Lake Wendouree Development Feasibility Study investigates a range of projects with positive economic outcomes for the community.

2000 - 2002

Rowing course is lengthened and widened by two lanes to meet national standards - other than depth.


A two year groundwater supply analysis for the Lake considers options for sourcing ground water as a supplementary supply for the Lake - however the water is of insufficient quality and quantity and unsuitable for the Lake.


Lake Blitz fundraising appeal is launched by the Lake Foundation to fast track implementation of the 1994 Lake Wendouree Masterplan. Lake Blitz is a partnership between the Lake Foundation, Council and the Committee for Ballarat which aims to ensure improvements to the foreshore are completed by the time water supply issues are finalised.

Council commissions an investigation into stormwater harvesting options to replace the Lake's dependency on the Gong Gong Reservoir.

Council and Central Highlands Water investigate wastewater re-use options. 


Council seeks formal approval from State Government agencies to intercept and harvest stormwater from Gnarr and Winter Creeks.

A Lake Wendouree Water Task Team (Council and government agencies) works to evaluate all options for the Lake's water supply. Its report, 'The Lake Wendouree Water Supply Investigation' determined:

  • no single source of water will meet the quality, quantity and timing requirements to ensure Lake Wendouree can provide for aquatic recreation, support indigenous flora and fauna, and maintain aesthetic values;
  • the use of treated waste water (600 megalitres/annum) together with stormwater (230 megalitres/annum) will deliver the necessary water quantity and quality; and
  • re-configuration of the Lake to reduce the surface area was the most expensive option considered. The negative environmental impacts make it an unfeasible option.


Victorian Premier, Ballarat Mayor and CHW Chairman announce funding for the $7 million Lake Wendouree Water Supply Project.

Council and Lake Blitz deliver a range of renewal projects.

Ballarat's rainfall is the lowest on record leading to the drying of the Lake for the first time since 1946.

Council completes the Paul's Drain stormwater diversion which will deliver an average of 250 megalitres a year to the Lake depending on rainfall. The system is tested and turned off until the following autumn to ensure water delivered to the Lake is not lost to evaporation.

Redirection of Ballarat Golf Club's overflow drain to Lake Wendouree (10ML/annum).

The bore used to supply the Ballarat Trout Hatchery supporting the Ballarat Fish Acclimatisation Society discharges approx 30mega litres annually to Lake Wendouree.


High spots at the start and finish of the rowing course are levelled out.

Sixty years of accumulated litter and hazards are removed from the dry Lake bed.

A feasibility study finds that deepening the rowing course to two metres would meet national standards - Council adopts the recommendations in April 2007.

Substantial bridge works are undertaken at Fairyland.


Fairy Grass becomes a major issue. Inundation of the lake bed is seen as an effective control.

Ryan Street Brown Hill stormwater diversion to Lake using Gong Gong to Lake pipeline adds 70ML of water per annum.

Stormwater from Paul's Wetland is delivered to the centre of the Lake for the first time.

Areas of the reed beds are contained by a series of low fences and geo-textile to hold sediment from the suction dredging of the rowing course.

Council partners with LGL Ballarat Goldfields (later known as Lihir Gold) to investigate the use of purified water from the mine's operation as an additional supply for the Lake and commits $150,000 to the project.


Application for funding assistance from the State Government's Regional Development Infrastructure Program for the LGL Ballarat Goldfields (Lihir Gold) pipeline is successful.

July announcement that Lihir Gold intends to sell the mine means plans for the pipeline are put on hold. 

Project reconfigured with the establishment of a pump station to transport stormwater from Redan Wetlands. Project is now known as the Redan Wetlands Stormwater Diversion.

August - Recycled Water from CHW's Ballarat North Treatment Plant is turned on and begins flowing into Lake Wendouree. The Ballarat North Treatment Plant will provide 600ML of Class A Recycled Water per annum.

November - Council is successful in securing a $2.377 million grant from the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts for the 'Harnessing Ballarat's Stormwater Project'. 


Infrastructure for the Harnessing Ballarat's Stormwater Project begins to be constructed:

  • Ballarat Golf Club Detention Basin
  • Ring Road Detention Basin


Further work to provide infrastructure for the Harnessing Ballarat's Stormwater Project:

  • Nerrina Wetlands
  • Warrenheip Creek
  • Renewal of the Gong Gong to Lake pipeline.

Water LevelsTop of document.

Projected Water Levels for Lake Wendouree

InputOutput ImageThe system in place is designed to ensure that Lake Wendouree stays within 30cm of full 90% of the time. 

It is important to note that the Lake does not need to be full in order to enjoy the lifestyle benefits the Lake brings including recreational opportunities, tourism activity and environmental benefits.  It is anticipated that the additional stormwater inputs will mean that recreational activities can gradually return to the Lake as it begins to fill:

  • Autumn 2012 - recreational sailing
  • Winter 2012 - recreational boating
  • Spring 2012 - fishing
  • Spring 2013 - international level rowing, angling and yachting events

Inputs and Outputs

The current water inputs into the Lake based on averages of rainfall and evaporation for the last 10 years are:

Rainfall directly into the lake 1210ML
Run off from the surrounding catchment   550ML
Paul's Drain Diversion   250ML
Brown Hill Diversion     70ML
Hatcheries Bore discharge     30ML
Recycled Class A Water   600ML
Evaporation 1930ML
Seepage     50ML
Total 2010ML

Additional stormwater inputs of 950ML per annum will progressively deliver water from winter 2010. (as at August 2010)

Additional Stormwater Projects

Council is currently working on a number of other stormwater projects.

The project includes the following diversions:

  • Redan Drain (Winter 2010)
  • Ballarat Golf Club Detention Basin (Summer 2010/2011)
  • Ring Road Detention Basin (Autumn 2011)
  • Nerrina Wetlands (Autumn 2012)
  • Warrenheip Creek (Autumn 2012)

Once the Lake is full, the new stormwater infrastructure will have the capacity to allow the irrigation of Sturt Street, Prince of Wales Park and other sporting grounds.  All of the above diversions will ensure the Lake remains viable even in the event of further climatic change.