Media Releases | 28th Jul, 2006

State Liberals need a 21st century water policy

Friday, 28 July 2006

The State Liberals need to come clean and tell Victorians which rivers will be dammed to death, says the state’s leading environment group, Environment Victoria.

Liberal Party water spokesperson Denis Napthine said this week (Weekly Times 26/7/06) that “we see potential opportunities (for new dams) but they would have to be judged on merit”.

In 2000, the World Commission on Dams released the largest comprehensive assessment of big dams. The Commission concluded that big dams around the world had exacted an “unacceptable and often unnecessary price” in social and environmental terms.

“Big dams were last century’s big idea on water.  Victoria needs 21st century water policies to meet 21st century water challenges,” said EV’s Healthy Rivers Campaign Director, Dr Paul Sinclair. “Those challenges are returning water to rivers to make them healthy, creating a conservation economy that rewards wise water use, and tackling the threats climate change poses to our water supplies.

“Big dams destroy river environments, don’t create any new water and would cost huge amounts of money to build.

“We need to build a water conservation economy where householders, irrigators and industry are strongly encouraged and rewarded for using less water,” said Dr Sinclair.

The Liberal Party also failed to address the needs of rivers in their recent water policies for Geelong and Ballarat. Healthy rivers help secure healthy water supplies. In the Melbourne region, 89% of drinking water is supplied by rivers.

“A water policy that ignores rivers health is like building a car without an engine. It’s not of great value to the future,” said Dr Sinclair.

“Sick rivers mean we will lose invaluable pleasures – like fishing and swimming with our friends and family. Healthy rivers protect community assets whose value is beyond calculation,”