Environment Victoria has welcomed the forward-thinking approach to urban water management taken in the Living Melbourne, Living Victoria Implementation Plan released by the Victorian Government today.
The full details of the plan are being analysed by Environment Victoria and will be released in coming days. As an initial response, CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said today:
“The Baillieu Government has recognised the uncertainties ahead for Melbourne’s water security and that ‘business as usual’ water planning will fail to meet future challenges.
“The government’s new plan recommends a number of positive actions. Included is an emphasis on water efficiency and the use of local and alternative water sources to meet Melbourne’s needs rather than building expensive and environmentally damaging dams and water infrastructure. This is exactly the type of planning that Melbourne needs to meet its future water needs.”
“There are some elements of the plan that need to be discussed with the community before implementation. In particular plans to allow water customers to pay a premium to avoid water restrictions should be debated given that water is an essential and limited resource.
“We would also want the government to guarantee that opening up new water markets and competition between water retailers will not result in increased water use and extraction from our rivers. This has been an un-intended consequence of previous water markets”.
The government’s plan is still in its early stages and considerable work needs to be completed to guide its implementation. Environment Victoria has nominated four criteria to measure the success of the plan’s implementation:
1. The Plan delivers on the state Coalition’s urban water election commitment to substitute 110 billion litres of potable water use by 2015 and 200 billion litres by 2030.
2. Rivers like the Yarra and Thompson that supply Melbourne with water receive their scientifically determined environmental flows, and the water quality of waterways receiving urban wastewater such as Port Phillip Bay are improved.
3. Water is used efficiently and not wasted.
4. All communities have fair and equitable access to water and that all Victorians participate in water saving measures during times of drought
“If the Plan can meet these criteria, and the health of the Yarra and Thomson Rivers improves, it will be a real success” concluded Ms O’Shanassy.
Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO 0421 054 402