THE FIRST MAROONDAH RESERVOIR
It is not commonly known that there was an
earlier Maroondah Reservoir, which was submerged when the present reservoir was built.
On February 19, 1891, about 300 people, including the Governor
of Victoria, the Earl of Hopetoun, travelled from Melbourne to Healesville, or the opening of the original Maroondah
On that day, the Governor turned on the water from the Watts River system, at the newly constructed
Watts Weir, about 4 km from Healesville..
The event was a grand occasion - Healesville was decorated with fern arches and many local people gathered to greet the
trains which brought officialdom out from Melbourne for the day. There was a procession of horse-drawn carriages, coaches
and assorted wagons!
There were 60 saddle horses, and 27 conveyances.
The route was dry and dusty, and after the opening ceremonies and speeches a luncheon in a large marquee was organized
at nearby Donnelley''s Creek
However, the name of the scheme was subsequently changed from Watts to Maroondah, the name by which local Aborigines knew
The scheme had its beginnings in the 1879 Water Supply Board recommendation to the Government
that a survey of the River and its tributaries and the practicality of conveying the water to Melbourne should be undertaken.
J.H. Davies undertook the survey, his report being furnished on 18 May, 1880.
The Water Supply Board recommended that
the scheme be undertaken in May, 1885.
Work began in 1886. William Davidson, Engineer of the Melbourne Water Supply
Branch of the Public Works Department, directed the permanent survey and construction. As well as the initial weir, later
replaced by the Maroondah Reservoir, the scheme called for a 66 km aqueduct to take the diverted water to Preston reservoir.
Of this, 41 km was open concrete channel, ten tunnels and 15 km was in 14 inverted siphons; three tunnels were/are around 1.6
km in length.
The inverted siphons took the water across various stream valleys along the way including across Watson's
Some tunnels are still in use today - others have been replaced by pipelines in recent times.
The early reservoir actually comprised two linked weirs, upper and lower.
The adjacent land in the Watts
Valley was lush flats and used for grazing.
Parts of the old weirs may occasionally be seen today when the reservoir level is low.