Northern Victoria is experiencing a period of rapid and profound change. The last decade of drought and climate change has had a deep impact on the region's river systems and its communities.
We've had historic low inflows of water into the rivers. Combined with the fact that we have been taking too much water out of our rivers anyway, this has brought northern Victoria's rivers to the brink of collapse. Bird and fish populations are plummeting and the region's unique river red gum forests are literally dying of thirst.
A change is needed
Years of low seasonal water allocations are threatening the viability of many irrigation businesses. And this is likely to continue in a warmer climate. The ongoing dry conditions are challenging farmers to change their thinking. Many are deeply concerned about the future of both their communities and their region's river systems.
Many irrigators have made changes to adapt to the reduced amount of water available. However, these changes are resulting in the available water being transfered to other agricultural enterprises rather than reducing the overall amount of water we use.
So far, this hasn't created the major changes we need to put both our farming communities and our environment back on a sustainable footing.
The community is leading the way
Northern Victoria's community is moving ahead of government and starting to realise that deep changes are needed in the area of irrigation. Organisations like the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project, Goulburn-Murray Water and the North Central Catchment Management Authority are starting to respond to needs of the community.
There is also growing agreement that the way forward is to reduce the area under irrigation and buy water back from farmers for the environment. But people need support to help them change the way they run their businesses. There is money available for this in the federal government's $12 billion 'Water for the Future' program.
The time is ripe
Many factors are at play that make this a unique opportunity to find a new way forward. The farming community is ageing and the terms of trade and consumer demand are changing. The community is united in its commitment to act and there is an opportunity for government invesment.
Now is the time for an integrated vision and forward plan, supported at the grassroots level, that challenges the status quo and addresses the fundamental drivers of the region's decline.
We can find a new way forward that will help northern Victoria's rivers and secure a properous future for regional communities.
That's why we ran our River Rescue and Regional Renewal project for northern Victoria. We‘re developing an action plan and we're working with the community to make it happen.
Want more information?
Read up about the Sustainable Diversion Limits in the Murray-Darling Basin
Learn about the Engineering a Crisis in a Ramsar Wetland
Water For Rivers
These informative, full-colour publications will introduce you to some of northern Victoria's most beautiful rivers, the challenges they face and they people who care for them.
Read our past submissions
We work hard to make sure our government knows that we want a sustainable future for northern Victoria's rivers. Here are some of our past submissions that you may find interesting.
Submission in response to Performance Audit of Commonwealth Environmental Watering Activities, August 2012
Comments on Draft Loddon Highlands WSPA Groundwater Management Plan, July 2012
Comments on NVIRP draft Public Environment Report, February 2010
Comments on Productivity Commission draft report, February 2010
Comments on Northern Victoria Renewal Project, October 2009
Comments on the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder's Discussion Paper, August 2009
Submission to Productivity Commission inquiry, September 2009
Submission to draft Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy, December 2008
Submission to Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy Discussion Paper, March 2008
Comments on Food Bowl Modernisation Project Steering Committee Draft Report, October 2007
Submission to the Victorian Environment Assessment Council River Red Gum Investigation Draft Proposals, October 2007
Submission to Victorian Environmental Assessment Council River Red Gum Forest Investigation, December 2006