Media Releases | 15th Aug, 2006

A dead Wimmera River won’t help water crisis

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Environment Victoria has called on the Victorian Government to pick up the bill for carting water to farming families in the Wimmera region.

Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Dr Paul Sinclair said the Wimmera’s water crisis had been a long-time coming, yet the Government had failed to plan ahead.

“This is the ugly face of climate change in Victoria.

“The Government needs to act now to help hurting local families by picking up the bill for water carting and increasing funding for family support services in the region,” Dr Sinclair said.

Environment Victoria is calling on the Victorian Government to establish a Wimmera Community Taskforce to address the immediate and long-term social and economic impacts of the current water shortage.

“Victoria needs a prosperous Wimmera and the region needs a long-term plan that shows how that future can be delivered. A dead Wimmera River won’t help us to create a prosperous future; nor will lurching from one water crisis to the next,” Dr Sinclair said.

Dr Sinclair said calls for the Wimmera River’s 3000 megalitres worth of environmental flows to be used to fill farm dams would severely impact upon the $220 million local tourism industry and the environment, and do nothing solve the water crisis.

The Wimmera River is one of Victoria’s great rivers. The river has not received any significant environmental flow for the past 18 months. Without water, vital aspects of the river will be threatened, including:

  • Already stressed river red gum forests
  • Endangered species of fish such as catfish and unique Blackfish populations
  • Water quality – already as high as 70 000 EC – could be further degraded

Water for the Wimmera River was created from savings made by the Northern Mallee Pipeline. Up to 90% of water released into the Wimmera’s channel system is lost before it reaches farm dams.

Scientists have warned our communities will face worse droughts, more extreme storms and more bushfires because of climate change. Dr Sinclair said the State Government must take urgent action to halt the devastating impacts of climate change.

“Farmers are going to be hit hard by climate change. But we can help put the brakes on climate change and stop it affecting more and more Victorian communities by cutting our greenhouse gas pollution levels – which are some of the highest per person in the world’’, said Dr Sinclair.

“The Victorian Government must take action to cut our current greenhouse pollution levels by 20 percent by 2020. That will help secure water for the future.”