Environment Victoria has welcomed the forward-thinking approach to urban water management taken in the Melbourne’s Water Future plan released by the Victorian government today.
Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said today:
“The Victorian 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 more expensive and environmentally damaging dams and desalination plants. This is exactly the type of planning that Melbourne needs to meet its future water needs.
“The plan represents a new era for Melbourne’s water cycle where the city supplies more of its own water through innovative stormwater capture and better use of rainwater tanks, rather than taking more water from Gippsland and Victoria’s north.
“The plan will also benefit the city’s rivers. Melbourne’s rivers and creeks are heavily polluted by stormwater runoff and will benefit immensely by stormwater capture. And for too long, the Yarra and Thomson rivers have suffered from too much water being taken from them to supply Melbourne’s water needs. Using alternative water supplies will reduce any future pressure and give our rivers a chance to recover.”
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. The Yarra and Thomson Rivers 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 is 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.