Media Releases | 27th Mar, 2009

Northern Victoria rivers strategy not up to scratch, says Independent Panel

Friday, 27 March 2009

Environment Victoria today welcomed a report released by an Independent Panel, which states that the Brumby Government’s Draft Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy needs to do more to address the impact of climate change on rivers.

The Independent Panel is required by law to provide advice and guidance to the Water Minister on the Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy.

Juliet Le Feuvre, Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers campaigns manager, said the report showed the environment was being squeezed out by all other users.

“The Independent Panel report says that as conditions get drier, the environment gets a smaller share of the available water. We welcome the Panel’s recommendation for governments to buy more water to add to the environment‘s share,” she said.

“The Panel also found that the Federal Government’s buyback of water is essential to protect river health and that governments in the Murray-Darling Basin should be working together to get more water back into rivers. Issues like the 4 per cent cap on water trade need to be resolved.”

Ms Le Feuvre said the finding that environmental water purchase should be targeted to achieve multiple benefits for rivers and communities while being integrated with investment in irrigation modernisation, was also important.

“Unless we want to watch the slow death of northern Victorian rivers and communities, the Sustainable Water Strategy needs to deliver an integrated plan that provides a secure future for farming communities and river systems,” she said.

“The Panel recognises the urgency of climate change and the damage it is doing, and says that waiting until 2019 to review water entitlements is too long. We need to shift the balance between consumptive and environmental water before there is nothing left to protect.

“It’s time the Brumby Government listened to its Panel’s advice and came up with a strategy that pays more than lip service to river health.”

Environment Victoria was heartened to see the Independent Panel pick up on many of the river health concerns raised by community groups in their submissions on the draft strategy.

For interview contact: Juliet Le Feuvre on 0428 770 019.

Media contact: Sacha Myers on 0417 017 844