Yesterday’s announcement by the Bracks Government to withhold the Wimmera River’s water allocation sets an alarming precedent for other environmental flows for rivers across the state, says Environment Victoria.
Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Dr Paul Sinclair said: “We’re concerned this decision may set a precedent that undermines the legal right of all environmental water entitlements across the state.’’
“The Wimmera Region is facing severe hardship, but sacrificing what’s left of the Wimmera River won’t solve that crisis.
Dr Sinclair said even the small volume of water allocated to the Wimmera River would have provided significant benefits to the health of the upper reaches of the river.
“Historic legislation passed last year gave the environment the right to water for the first time in over 100 years,” he said. “But the Government’s announcement raises serious concerns about the certainty and security of the environment’s entitlement to water”.
The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments are investing over $1 billion of public money to return flows to the Snowy, Murray and Wimmera and Glenelg Rivers. Dr Sinclair said Victorians have every reason to demand that these investments are secure and deliver the promised river flows.
“The hundreds of millions of dollars of public money being invested into the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline was done so because taxpayers were promised that the bulk of the water saved would be returned to the Wimmera and Glenelg Rivers.”
“What guarantee is there that this will occur if political pressure can so easily undermine the rights of the environment to water?,’’ said Dr Sinclair.