The health of our rivers has not improved despite years of effort and millions of dollars in investment, according to the state government's latest research.
A report to be released this week has found that three-quarters of our inland waterways are in average to very poor condition, with most rivers in the western half of the state plagued by chronic distress.
Among the worst affected areas are those in the Wimmera, Glenelg and Portland regions. In contrast, the healthiest waterways are centred on the East Gippsland, Mitchell and Snowy basins, which are largely inside national parks.
The report found that across Victoria only 23 per cent of streams were assessed in ''good'' or ''excellent'' condition. This was a marginal increase from 21 per cent in 2004, when the last benchmark study was released.
Yet despite the result, the government argues it could have been worse, given the state was in drought while data was being collected in the six years to 2010.
The figures are contained in the third instalment of the government's latest Index of Stream Condition report, which provides a snapshot of about 29,000 kilometres of major rivers and streams across the state.
For the first time, state-of-the-art remote sensing technology was used to give a more accurate depiction of river health. Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said comprehensive and up-to-date information about the condition of Victorian rivers was vital to shaping government policy.