Media Releases | 22nd May, 2009

Drought-stressed Yarra and Thomson need more water, not less

Friday, 22 May 2009

Environment Victoria and the Yarra Riverkeeper Association were today disappointed with the Water Minister’s decision to consider taking more water from the already stressed Yarra and Thomson Rivers to supplement Melbourne’s water supply.

Leonie Duncan, Environment Victoria’s healthy rivers campaigner, said today:

“The Yarra and Thomson Rivers is already flowing at a fraction of natural levels. We just can’t keep on taking water from already stressed rivers that are such valuable natural assets.”

“The dams have dropped well below the Stage 4 trigger level and the winter rain outlook is far from positive. The question on the minds of a lot of people in Melbourne – and around the state – is why we are ignoring current drought response plans and not going on to State 4 water restrictions.

“No one likes the idea of tougher water restrictions, but no one likes the idea of a sick and depleted rivers either. One look at the Murray and we see what happens when rivers are denied the water they need.”

“There are smarter options that the Brumby Government needs to be looking at instead of taking more water from our rivers. Existing studies have shown that by harvesting stormwater, making better use of recycled water and increasing the water efficiency of our homes and businesses, we could save billions of litres of water and take the pressure off our water-deprived rivers.”

Ian Penrose from the Yarra Riverkeeper Association said today:

“Today’s government announcement is terrible news for the health of our Yarra River. The Yarra is suffering severely from the combination of a decade of low run-off and ongoing and unsustainably high water extraction.

“Last year its total flow was only 12 per cent of its average natural rate. This year-to-date, the flow has been just 9 per cent. This is impacting adversely on the health and populations of the species that rely on the river. And the risks of an outbreak of algae and fish deaths are escalating.

“The government is not being serious enough about reducing water usage. Instead it is yet again trying to squeeze more out of much depleted and precious river.”