Media Releases | 22nd Jul, 2010

Progress on Yarra and Thomson river environmental flows but river rescue package needed ahead of election

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Environment Victoria has welcomed Water Minister Tim Holding’s announcement today that increased environmental flows will be delivered to the Yarra and Thomson Rivers ahead of any further easing of water restrictions.

Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said today:

“Increased flows in the Yarra and Thomson are good news and will provide welcome relief to the river systems. It is encouraging that increased flows are being provided ahead of any further easing of water restrictions. However we are yet to see the state government deliver on its full environmental commitments to the Yarra and Thomson.”

“In 2006 the state government promised to set aside 17 billion litres of water each year for environmental flows in the Yarra. This water has instead been used to bolster Melbourne’s water supply. The Yarra is still owed an additional 10 billion litres of water each year to meet the original environmental flow commitment.

“The Thomson has a similar story with promised environmental flows being suspended in recent years. Today’s announcement by Minister Holding is an improvement on the status quo, but until water restrictions return to Stage 1 both rivers will continue to miss out on their full environmental entitlement.

Ms O’Shanassy also said that there was much more work to do to deliver promised environmental flows in other parts of the state.

“The Yarra and Thomson are just two of the 15 rivers state-wide that are yet to receive their promised environmental entitlements.

“Environmental flows are not spare water, they are part of the rivers’ legal right to water and are vital to maintaining river health” said Ms O’Shanassy. “We can’t go on starving rivers like the Campaspe, Moorabool and Wimmera and expecting them to survive.

“All our rivers have been waiting a long time for a decent drink. Ahead of the state election we need to see a plan from the Government and Opposition for providing Victorian rivers with adequate water.

“The first priority should be to return water to the rivers that feed the newly declared River Red Gum Parks in northern Victoria.” concluded Ms O’Shanassy.

For comment

Kelly O’Shanassy, Environment Victoria 0421 054 402