Pioneer pastoralists and brothers James and George Rowan – Glenrowan’s namesakes – had two significant issues to contend with in 1848, and neither of those were the Kelly Gang (that would come much later).
The first was 16,000 acres of grazing land and little to no water. The Warby Ranges provided run-off for a small amount of agricultural pursuits by filling what would come to be known as Lake Mokoan. ‘Lake’ was a generous term, though, as the shallowness caused heavy evaporation and the brothers carted water from what was more likely several swamps.
The second was the isolation. By the time the town was declared in 1861, the population was a total of 12. Fortunately, Cobb & Co set up shop a year later and used Glenrowan as a pit stop to change horses and for passengers to eat and have a rest.
It would be the Kelly Gang that put Glenrowan on the map and cement the town in the nation’s mind. In 1880 Glenrowan was the site of the siege of the Kelly gang at Jones Hotel. In the two-day siege that followed, three of the four gang members were killed and Ned Kelly was captured and brought to trial. Glenrowan acquired the reputation of being part of ‘Kelly Country’ and the town’s infamy created a mostly unheard of industry – tourism.
North East Water
The Ovens Region Water Authority became responsible for Glenrowan’s water supply when the Authority was constituted on 19 December 1994.
In its first year of operation, Ovens Water completed a dedicated rising main from Fifteen Mile Creek to a new water treatment plant that had been substantially completed. This meant that water no longer had to be pumped through the reticulation system. With all water now going through the treatment plant, there was a significant improvement in the quality of the water provided. This was followed by the completion of a new high level storage the following year.
Supply was from Fifteen Mile Creek. Water was diverted from the creek and pumped to the Edwin Scott Basin, which has a capacity of 22 megalitres. From there, water was pumped to the high level storage (with a capacity of 42 ML). Water from the high level storage would pass through the treatment plant, receiving chlorination before it was supplied to the town’s reticulation system.
New Water Supply for Glenrowan
The existing water supply from Fifteen Mile Creek had ongoing quality and quantity issues. There had been increasing outbreaks of blue-green algae in the reservoir and low flows in the creek during dry periods would often result in the need to impose water restrictions.
On 30 May 2011 Glenrowan received a new water supply, following the completion of a 12 kilometre pipeline from Wangaratta. The construction of the pipeline and storage tanks cost $2.25 million and resulted in improvements in the quality and quantity of water being provided. The water is now sourced from the Ovens River and treated at the Wangaratta water treatment plant. From there the water is piped to two new storage tanks at Warby Springs, before being fed into the Glenrowan system. As a result of the new scheme, the Glenrowan community is provided with a much more reliable and higher quality of water supply.
A reticulated sewerage system for Glenrowan
In May 2013 contracts were awarded for the construction of Glenrowan’s $3.3 million sewerage project. The project involved transforming the former water treatment plant into a wastewater treatment plant and holding dam. The project used gravity reticulation, with wastewater piped to the new wastewater treatment plant. North East Water made use of the existing infrastructure system of the town’s water pipeline, storage dam and 30 megalitre storage system, which was no longer in use now that the town’s water was supplied through a new pipeline from Wangaratta.
The wastewater scheme was completed in November 2014 at a cost of $4.1 million. Approximately 140 customers connected to the sewerage system, with the system able to accommodate future growth and treat almost double that capacity of wastewater. The plant is the only one in the region to use a Rotating Biological Contractor to treat the wastewater.
The Edwin Scott Basin site used for the wastewater treatment plant was formerly used for raw water storage and transfer to the upper reservoir site for Glenrowan, before the potable water supply from Wangaratta. The raw water dam was converted to a winter storage with installation of an HDPE liner. The dam is also able to be supplemented with raw water to assist the reclaimed irrigation scheme.
The wastewater treatment plant and reuse scheme was constructed by Mawson Constructions of Shepparton, with Alpine Plumbing of Albury carrying out the sewerage reticulation works, and more than two kilometres of pipes laid throughout the town.
The treated wastewater is used for irrigation, stored in a plastic-lined dam and then used for sub-surface irrigation.
The new sewerage scheme ended the use of septic tanks and ensured that the management of Glenrowan’s wastewater was compliant with environmental standards, resulting in significant health and environmental benefits for the town, its residents and tourists.