This is the last of the so-called ‘qualification of rights’ to be lifted and now all environmental entitlements in Victoria should be available for the purpose for which they were intended – protecting the health of our rivers and streams!
The return of environmental water to the Yarra marks the end of a long campaign by Environment Victoria and the Yarra River Keeper Association (YRKA), which started more than two years ago when hundreds of people took to the river in boats and canoes as part of the Yarra Flow-tilla, making a big noise to attract the government’s attention to their river. This was followed by petitions, actions outside MPs’ offices and countless hours by YRKA members spreading the message far and wide that the river needs a fair share of its own water. This persistence has finally paid off and the environmental water is back where it belongs – in the river. Congratulations to everyone who has taken action from signing an on-line petition to visiting their MP – it worked!
One way of doing this is for the government to create more environmental entitlements, as has just happened for the Moorabool River. 2,500 million litres have just been returned to the Moorabool, which has the dubious title of most flow stressed river in Victoria, as a result of augmentations to water supply for Ballarat and Geelong (through pipelines and groundwater – that’s a story for another day!) This is great news for the river, and again has come about through persistent lobbying by People for a Living Moorabool (PALM) who have reminded the government time and again of commitments they made through the Central Region Sustainable Water Strategy and refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. Congratulations, PALM!
To protect their long-term health, rivers need a fair share of their water or ‘sustainable baseflow’ every year – not necessarily the same amount of water every year, but enough to keep a healthy pattern of flows. To do this we need to make changes to our Water Act and bring into the 21st century. Check out our recommendations here and you can see if any of the political parties are taking them up ahead of the state election by checking our election scorecard here. If you don’t like what you see you know what to do – pick up the phone and ring your local candidates to ask them to rescue our rivers!