Work gives Katanning’s Lake Ewlyamartup new life after decade-long community campaign

Sarah MakseGreat Southern Herald
The official opening of Lake Ewlyamartup's engineering works.
Camera IconThe official opening of Lake Ewlyamartup's engineering works. Credit: Bonny Dunlop-Heague

Katanning’s Lake Ewlyamartup’s future is looking bright after engineering works to restore its waters were finished last month after a decade-long campaign by the community.

Situated about 17km east of Katanning, the 100ha freshwater lake was an important camp and hunting ground for Goreng Noongar people centuries ago, and is now home to a sacred site on the outskirts of the lake.

In recent years, the lake has became a hive of activity, proving popular with families and waterskiers in the summer.

The surrounding wetland also provides an important habitat for native wildlife, with 95 bird species recorded in the area.

But over time, the water quality of Lake Ewlyamartup has been in steep decline, with its freshwater rising in salinity.

The change promoted a passionate group of locals to take action in 2010, forming the Lake Ewlyamartup Working Group to help protect and restore their beloved water source.

The group’s fight for the future of the lake was honoured last month at a special unveiling of the improvements at Lake Ewlyamartup hosted by the Great Southern Development Commission.

Aboriginal ranger Johnny Rodd, Lake Ewlyamartup Working Group chair Mick Quartermaine, Ezzard Flowers, Great Southern Development commission chief executive chief executive Bruce Manning, Cameron Taylor, Natalie Nicholson, Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management’s Bonny Dunlop-Heague.
Camera IconAboriginal ranger Johnny Rodd, Lake Ewlyamartup Working Group chair Mick Quartermaine, Ezzard Flowers, Great Southern Development commission chief executive chief executive Bruce Manning, Cameron Taylor, Natalie Nicholson, Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management’s Bonny Dunlop-Heague. Credit: Steve Pontin/ Great Southern Development Commission

Katanning Landcare officer Ella Maesepp has worked closely with the group over the past decade to shape engineering and recreation works to revive the lake.

“The water quality started to decline with agriculture, getting saltier, more eutrophic (build-up of nutrients) and sedimented,” she said.

“By the late 1990s and early 2000s, the water quality in the lake had collapsed.

“In 2010, a group of incredible local people got together to fix the lake.

“They were concerned of the environmental condition, the loss of the recreation values, and were prepared to put the work in to bring it back to life.”

Led by Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management as part of the $3.7 million Living Lakes project, a 2.7km flushing channel and a controlled gate was built to manage the flow of water.

The project was supported by Katanning Landcare, the Great Southern Development Commission and Wheatbelt NRM.

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