Media Releases | 16th Mar, 2010

Pay-back time for rivers supplying Melbourne’s water

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Environment Victoria is today calling on the state government to return much needed water to the Yarra and Thomson rivers ahead of any decision to ease Melbourne’s water restrictions. A decision on water restrictions is anticipated today.

Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy today said that after three years of taking environmental water from the Yarra and Thomson rivers it is time to pay back the debt to these rivers to avoid major environmental damage.

“Over the last three years, the state government has taken an extra 80 billion litres from the Yarra River and 40 billion litres from the Thomson to supply Melbourne. This is not spare water, it is part of the rivers’ legal right to water and is vital to maintaining river health. Our rivers have been stressed to breaking point to supply Melbourne’s needs” said Ms O’Shanassy.

“We need to lift restrictions on river flows before we consider relaxing domestic water restrictions for Melbourne. The state’s rivers have been raided to provide water security for the city and now that there is a little more water in the dams it’s time for Minister Holding to give the rivers a drink.”

Ms O’Shanassy said the case for easing water restrictions was weakened by the fact that Melbourne is now pumping environmental water from northern Victoria via the Sugarloaf Pipeline to supplement its storages.

“What a terrible signal it would send to Melburnians and the nation if we increased our water use at the expense of northern Victoria’s parched rivers and the Murray-Darling Basin.

These rivers are some of the most stressed in the country. They cannot afford to lose any environmental water”.

“Nobody likes water restrictions, but Melburnians have done a fantastic job of reigning in their water use. It’s time that our behaviour led to an improved environmental outcome by returning some water to rivers. Meanwhile the state government should be matching individuals’ water saving efforts with serious investment in rain and storm water harvesting, water recycling and improving the health of the rivers upon which we depend for urban and agricultural water.

For comment:

Kelly O’Shanassy, Environment Victoria CEO
0421 054 402