Media Releases | 21st Feb, 2005

Melbourne must keep saving water

Monday 21 February, 2005

Melbourne should increase its water savings target to more than 25 per cent, said the state’s peak environment group.

With a 22 per cent drop in water consumption, Melburnians had reduced their water use well above the State Government’s target of 15 per cent, said Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Director Dr Paul Sinclair.

“Melburnians have done a superb job in saving water, and should be congratulated for saving more than the Government’s target,” said Dr Sinclair.

“We welcome permanent water restrictions but believe that we should not ease our water savings. We must keep water demand down if we are to deal with uncertainties on the horizon including our growing population, drought, climate change and sick, stressed rivers like the Yarra. This is an ongoing challenge. We’ve got to keep at it.”

The recent Yarra river pollution highlighted just how crucial our rivers are, he said.

“Sick kayakers and dead eels show just how important our rivers are to our quality of life. We take a massive amount of water out of the Yarra for consumption.”

“Rivers need to be resilient so in times of drought, growing populations, and climate change, our waterways are strong enough to support us. Large water savings allow us to deal with these issues. The more we can save the more secure we will be. Sydney and Perth are learning these lessons the hard way.”

“We don’t want to undermine all those precious gains we’ve made in the last few years by winding back water restrictions. We’ve taken ten steps forward, let’s not go twenty steps back. We don’t want to risk the gains when we’ve got uncertainties ahead of us. And of course saving water saves money, making our houses cheaper to run.”

Studies show 75 per cent of the state’s rivers are in poor or very poor health after being sucked dry, polluted and choked. So much water is pumped from rivers for irrigation and our growing population that there is not enough left for the environment. Global warming will cause more droughts and reduce rainfall, making a drier Victoria.

Melbourne takes an average 420 billion litres out of the Yarra River each year. The average flow is 1,200 billion litres.

Dr Sinclair said Melbourne should not build a new dam. A new dam would cost $1 billion, destroy the surrounding environment, take water from stressed rivers, and it and seriously damage the farming industry.