Environment Victoria calls on the Bracks Government to extend its strong water conservation targets for Melbourne to the state’s big drinkers – irrigation industries.
The state’s leading environment group welcomed the Victorian ALP’s announcement that, if re-elected, it would invest in programs designed to help reduce per capita water use in Melbourne 25% by 2015. The proposals include:
“We congratulate the ALP on the leadership it has shown with the package of urban water conservation programs,’’ said Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Paul Sinclair.
“Strong, long-term water conservation targets and funded water buy-back programs are now needed for the state’s big drinkers – irrigation industries.’’
Irrigated industries account for 77% of water used in Victoria. In 2004/5 the state’s irrigation industries – which take water from the Murray River System – used more than 5 times the volume of water consumed by the 3.5 million residents of Melbourne in the same year.
The Victorian and other Murray Darling Basin governments have promised to return 500,000 megalitres to the Murray River by 2009. This represents one-third of the water scientists consider necessary to restore health to the river system.
“Unsustainable water use and a drought made worse by human-induced climate change are threatening our river systems and water supplies. We have to reduce our water use and protect our river systems across the state if we are going to have viable irrigation industries and prosperous towns in the future”, said Dr Sinclair.
“Saving water will generate new economic opportunities and secure water for rivers that support our cities, industries and irrigation systems. It is absolutely vital that long-term and ambitious water savings targets are extended across Victoria’s biggest water users”, said Dr Sinclair.
“Melbourne has done a great job saving water, but it can do more. Our goal must be to make Victoria the world-leader in conserving water and protecting the river systems that are the heart of our communities” said Dr Sinclair.