The Bracks Government must carry out an environmental assessment of the Yarra River if Melbourne is to have full confidence in the safety of the waterway, said the state’s peak conservation group.
The call comes as the Government announced pollutant monitoring for the river.
“The State Government is responding properly by instigating monitoring following January’s pollution scare,” said Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Paul Sinclair.
“It is an important first step that must now be followed by a full and thorough environmental assessment of the whole of the river. A scientific study is crucial so we fully understand its ecological condition and what it needs to be healthy. Only this will ensure the iconic waterway’s long-term survival.”
“Sick kayakers and dead eels are symptomatic of a sick river. However a healthy river is more than just bacteria levels.”
Dr Sinclair said Melbourne takes an average 420 billion litres out of the Yarra River each year for the city’s consumption. The average flow is 1,200 billion litres.
“We take a massive quantity of water from the river without fully understanding its condition. If we carry on with this business-as-usual attitude with no basis in science then it could bleed the river dry. We cannot know how to ensure its health without a study. The Yarra is too important to Melbourne to play Russian roulette with its future.”
Dr Sinclair said Melbourne did not need to take more water from rivers, instead it needed to save more water.
“This week’s permanent water restrictions announcement was a welcome step in reducing our water consumption. But Melbourne is going to pump rivers dry unless the city’s water use is cut by more than 25 per cent. The city has already shown that it is prepared to save more than 22 per cent from water consumption. We can save more.”
“We continue to urge the State Government to re-think its water savings targets.”