COMPETITIVE rowing made an emphatic return to Lake Wendouree in March with school pride on the line for Head of the Lake centenary celebrations.
The Ballarat Associated Schools’ event was the first in a series of major regattas on the city’s iconic water venue this year.
Victorian and Australian masters rowing and Australian canoe championships were out in force on waters that hosted the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Rowing Regatta.
One of the key, and highly controversial, machines pivotal to restoring Lake Wendouree to nation-wide competition was pulled from the water this week. Job complete.
The City of Ballarat yesterday confirmed the dredge was removed from Lake Wendouree on Tuesday.
Lake Wendouree’s eight-lane course now meets a national standard depth of 2.1 metres – the 2000m lake course is 2.2m deep.
This involved deepening the existing course about 0.5 metres.
A City of Ballarat spokesperson said the dredge’s departure followed weeks of planning for its removal.
“The dredge has completed the widening and deepening of the rowing course,” the spokesperson said.
“The dredging of the rowing course has been a complex project that we are pleased has been brought to a successful conclusion to open the rowing course to the community.
“Rowing Australia and the city are pleased with the rowing course works which will be promoted around the world in 2014 when Ballarat hosts the masters rowing.”
Dredging has been the source of many headaches for council, lake users and rate-payers with its speed (or lack thereof) and financial cost.
Works began in October 2010 with two dredgers initially brought in for the project.
Drought had kept watersports off the venue for almost eight years.
Showcase event, the BAS Head of the Lake was forced to set up at Nagambie Lakes and later Geelong’s Barwon River in the interim with rowers – school and open division – constantly on the state’s highways seeking on-water training locations. By May last year, councillor Judy Verlin guaranteed the lake would be ready for the Head of the Lake centenary party.
At the time, Cr Verlin said the community questioned why dredging was not done when the lake was dry but council had relied on lake management experts for the best approach.
“All the advice given to us was to allow the lake to come back in a healthy environment to minimise algae bloom and to allow the lake to settle into its natural environment,” Cr Verlin said.
“The users have been very supportive of all the logic behind the dredging, filling and weed cutting.
“All these decisions were made based on the best advice given by the Department of Sustainability, the EPA and the user groups.”
The City was confident it had got it right to keep attracting major events to the lake – and in longevity for Ballarat users.
Lake Wendouree will host the 2014 World Masters Rowing Championships and with a string of regattas this summer in the lead-up.
The rowing course is now ready for the 2012-13 rowing season.