Media Releases | 22nd Aug, 2006

Dams no solution to water woes

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Environment Victoria has welcomed moves to provide increased protection for the state’s heritage rivers.

The Heritage Rivers (Further Protection) Bill is due to be debated in Parliament this week.

Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Dr Paul Sinclair said the new legislation would stop new dams from being built on the state’s heritage rivers – some of which already have major dams.

“Many of our existing dams – which can hold about half the entire flow of Victoria’s rivers combined – are almost empty,’’ Dr Sinclair said.

“Building another dam won’t solve anything and will only cause damage to our rivers, the natural environment and downstream communities. We need 21st Century solutions for 21st Century problems.’’

“It’s time we faced up to the fact that we are still using far too much water at a time when our limited water supplies are being further pressured by climate change and increasing population.’’

Dr Sinclair said negative impacts of dams included:

  • some fish populations – including bream – in the Gippsland Lakes have collapsed severely impacting on commercial fishing operations and recreational angling;
  • the Glenelg River is being choked by millions of cubic metres of sand because of reduced flows; and
  • the Thomson Dam has worsened sand build-up in the Gippsland Lakes, by diverting water to Melbourne that would have normally flushed sand through the channel.

Dr Sinclair said it would be far more effective for every Victorian household to adopt cheap water-saving devices – such as a $20 shower head – instead of spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a concrete wall.

“Instead of damming our rivers we must continue efforts to cut water use in homes, industry and agriculture. ’’

“The Government has proposed a 25 per cent reduction target for Melbourne’s residential water use by 2015. It’s time it set credible targets for industry and agricultural industries, which are the biggest water users in the state.’’