Environment Victoria will tonight launch its report ‘Bringing the Victorian Water Act into the 21st Century’. The report recommends the Victorian Water Act be improved to provide greater protection for the state’s rivers and wetlands.
“The Water Act provides the framework for water allocation across the state and has been revised many times” says Kelly O’Shanassy, Environment Victoria CEO. “But it still fails to provide adequate protection for our river systems. Over the past few decades, they have been increasingly short of water.”
“Its time for a 21st century Water Act that helps communities deal with a drier future and protects the rivers that provide us with good quality water for tourism, recreation, agriculture and of course for drinking.”
The report will be launched by Professor Lee Godden, Director of the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Melbourne.
“Previous reform of the Water Act has not gone far enough”, says Prof. Godden. “Our rivers are still short of water to call their own. Environment Victoria’s recommendations will ensure greater security and reliability for environmental water.”
Bringing the Victorian Water Act into the 21st Century has been prepared with advice from the Environment Defenders Office. It assesses how the Act has performed in protecting river health and makes recommendations to improve the Act, including setting aside a legally enforceable share of water or ‘sustainable base flow’ to better protect environmental values and the health of freshwater ecosystems.
Other recommendations include:
“These are all crucial reforms”, says Nicola Rivers, Policy and Law Reform Director at the Environment Defenders Office. “These recommendations will give water managers the tools to respond to changing pressures on water resources, particularly as a result of climate change.”
“Protecting our rivers is more important than ever” concludes Ms O’Shanassy. “Rivers have been hit hard by over-extraction of water and impacted by drought and climate change and all of this has occurred under the auspices of the current Victorian Water Act. Reforming the Act to provide stronger legal protection for environmental water is essential – after all, water legislation is not much use if it doesn’t protect the most important water resource we have, our rivers.”
For media comment: Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO Environment Victoria, 0421 054 402