The Collapse of the Peat Swamp


Heavy rain on Friday August 7th 1998 (200-300mm) lifted the abandoned pontoon dredge and washed it 1.5 km through a buffer zone (supposed to protect the Wingecarribee Reservoir). The dredge ended up in the Reservoir.

"As the dredge swept downstream into the Reservoir, its legs extending 10-15 feet through the hull of the pontoon like twin keels or knives, ripped a strip out of the Buffer Zone" between the dredge pool and the Reservoir. The Buffer Zone was meant to protect the Reservoir from peat mining.

The dredge dug a channel through the peat that was about 1500m long by 10m wide. [see photos] Backed up floodwaters burst through the channel carrying agricultural and urban runoff into the Reservoir. The northern banks of the swamp caved in and the peatland vegetation was churned up all the way from the mining site to the head of the swamp several kilometres upstream. About 5 million cubic metres of peat flowed in the Reservoir.

"The swamp had collapsed, its whole topography and geography transformed overnight. A Wetland of National (perhaps international) significance was reduced to a torn and twisted wreck" which may take hundreds of years to fully rehabilitate.



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David Tranter, Robertson Environmental Protection Society, 1998.

David Tranter, 'Case Study: Wingecarribee Swamp', Water: Wet or Dry?: The Proceedings of the Water and Wetlands Management Conference, November 1998, Nature Conservation council of NSW, August 1999, pp.90-97.


This site has been designed, researched and produced by Sharon Beder

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