Lake Learmonth not just in name

SPRING rain has returned water to Lake Learmonth for the first time in four years, a resident said yesterday.Above average rainfall in September followed by some decent October downpours have led to a small amount of water collecting on the dry lake bed for the first time since 2005.But Lake Learmonth Advisory Committee president Fon Ryan said it would take several years of above average rainfall to before it returned to even half its pre-drought levels."There's only about six inches of water at the deepest point covering about half the lake, but it will gradually dry up, it's not going anywhere this year," he said.Lake Learmonth emptied in 2002, six years after drought conditions in the area were first recorded.City of Ballarat sustainability manager Ian Rossiter said, unlike Lake Burrumbeet, which also dried up in persisting dry conditions, Lake Learmonth does not benefit from urban runoff."The catchment is an agricultural catchment that requires saturation before we get significant run off into lake," he said."Three months of average rainfall and we are starting to see some inflows but there is virtually no water in it."(Lake) Burrumbeet has the advantage of assured run off, so it has some water in it every year, but obviously it is helped by more inflows."There is water in Lake Burrumbeet, at it's deepest it's about 600 mm and covering a lot of the central and southern area of the lake."Mr Rossiter said there was "exceptional populations of water life" in both Lake Burrumbeet and Lake Wendouree, which was gradually returning.