Central Victorian landowners are moving stock to higher ground and preparing for further flooding as the Loddon River continues to rise.
- The Laanecoorie Weir is currently spilling at a rate of 9,000 megalitres a day
- A Watch and Act Flood warning has been issued for communities downstream of the weir
- Farmers along the river are pulling out pumps and moving stock to higher ground in preparation
Nearly 9,000 megalitres of water a day is spilling over the Laanecoorie Reservoir Weir after heavy rain on the weekend fell onto already saturated catchments and into the river system.
Goulburn Murray Water river operations coordinator Guy Ortlipp said the water was expected to continue spilling for some time.
“Laanecoorie sits downstream of two bigger storages — Cairn Curran Reservoir and Tullaroop Reservoir,” Mr Ortlipp said.
“As of [Monday]they’re all full, or close to full, so all the inflows we’ve been getting from the recent wet conditions are passing downstream to Laanecoorie.
“We’re starting to see the inflows ease up now, so we should start to see the flows [that are] coming out of those dams start to reduce over the next day or two.
“We’re expecting it to hold at its current flow rate (9,000ML) for the next little bit, probably the next couple of days, at least.”
Lessons from the past
The Laanecoorie Weir spilled last year, but the last serious flood in the region was in 2011.
Nearly a third of Loddon Shire was impacted during that event.
Colleen Condliffe farms at Salisbury West on the Loddon River, between Bendigo and Wedderburn.
She said while this event was not nearly as large, her community was not taking any chances.
“People are pulling [irrigation] pumps out of the river just in case,” Ms Condliffe said.
“We’ve now got the sheep organised, so they are going to be moved … then our cattle, we got them in place ready to move as well.”
Even if this latest rain doesn’t cause a major flood, Ms Condliffe fears it won’t take much to match 2011, given the saturated soil.
“We are going to see a flood of some shape or form. Every time we get rain it gets heavier and heavier,” she said.
All eyes on the Murray
The flooding on the Loddon is just a small part of a far larger story, which involves the current levels along the Murray River.
After a wet winter, many of the river’s tributaries are flowing heavily into the system and all eyes are on Lake Dartmouth, which is on track to spill for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.
Andrew Leahy is the chair of the Victorian Farmers Federation water council and farms at Murrabit, near where the Loddon joins the Murray.
“The Murray’s actually a bit higher than it was back in 2011 but we don’t want to see a huge amount of water come down the Loddon because that’s what caused us issues in 2011,” Mr Leahy said.
“We are getting a little bit worried, the Murray is still rising here, but it’s nothing new to a lot of the old families that have been through these events in the ’70s and the ’90s.
“It’s good to see the system full, but we got to take into account it’s going to cause some dramas for someone.”