Water woes’ flow-on effect

In 1946 the Wodonga and District Progress Association asked the Wodonga Waterworks Trust to install a storage tank on Watson’s Hill. The Association believed a storage tank on Watson’s Hill (now officially Huon Hill) would give Wodonga a first-class water scheme.

(It would be another 27 years before a water storage was constructed on Watson’s Hill and water pipes 30″ in diameter began carrying that water to residents.)

In May 1957 Wodonga, a town of 7,000 people only seven miles below the Hume Weir, twice had no water. On 15th May the water level in Wodonga Creek dropped below the pump intake. On 27th May water ceased to flow at 11 a.m. and wasn’t restored until 4.30 p.m. except in areas where a supply was received from Bandiana military camp.

The Watertrust installed a smaller pump at a lower level in the creek in order that supplies would continue. But the supplies stopped again the following Monday, washing day. This time a faulty intake valve was the cause.

The Wodonga Hospital was without water. Holdenson & Nielson and the Kiewa Butter factory both offered to send two 20,000 gallon tankers filled with water. However the hospital’s Secretary-Manager. Mr. Wetherend, said only one operation was performed at the Hospital during the time water was unavailable and water ‘loaned’ by a neighbour was taken to the hospital by a staff bucket-brigade and boiled for sterilisation. The hospital was unable to wash patients and had just sufficient water for cooking.

The Trust said it had been fighting for years to get a large capacity reservoir on Watson’s Hill to replace the water tower which held less than one hour’s supply. The Trust had been promised a grant of 21,419 Pounds but would get the money only when loan monies became available.

In 2002 the water intake from Wodonga Creek was considerably reduced because of silting, and a rock wall was constructed across the Creek, east of the Wodonga Creek bridge, to increase the height of the water to enable the pumps to return to full pumping capacity.