The report outlines the risks to river health of redirecting environmental water to meet human needs when water is in short supply. It also examines the shortcomings in current arrangements for declaring water shortages and assessing and monitoring environmental impacts.
Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaigner Juliet Le Feuvre says “The Auditor-General has concluded that environmental risks have not been adequately taken into account by this government and some water authorities, and that the health of some rivers has been damaged by restricting environmental flows.”
Environment Victoria agrees with the Auditor-General’s recommendations that the terms ‘water shortage’, ‘critical needs’ and ‘temporary emergency’ be clarified. He also recommends that the public should be informed about the rationale for declaring a water shortage and the potential effects of redirecting environmental water.
“These are important recommendations”, says Ms Le Feuvre. “Our rivers have been consistently deprived of their legal right to a share of their own water, in order to meet consumptive demands. We need to know why and how these decisions are made, what criteria are used, and to what extent the environmental consequences are assessed and taken into account”.
“Our rivers need stronger legal protection”, concluded Ms Le Feuvre. “The Auditor-General’s report shows that we can‘t go on helping ourselves to the rivers’ fair share of water whenever the going gets tough. Our rivers need a guaranteed share of their own water and a modernised Water Act is the way to provide this.”
For further information or comment:
Water and Healthy Rivers Campaigner, Juliet LeFeuvre: 0428 770 019 or (03) 9341 8106