The Andrews Government’s new Water for Victoria discussion paper lacks a compelling vision for improving the health of our state’s stressed rivers, Environment Victoria said today.
The discussion paper released today is the first step in creating a new water plan later in 2016. It draws welcome attention to the impact of climate change on Victoria’s water resources and the need to make greater use of stormwater and recycled water to supply our towns and cities, but fails to address the fundamental problem of reducing overall water use to protect rivers and wetlands.
“This document fails to identify how the Andrews Government plans to fix Victoria’s rivers,” Healthy Rivers Campaigner Juliet Le Feuvre said today. “Less than one quarter of Victoria’s rivers are in good condition, with climate change already making things even worse.”
The discussion paper spells out how the state’s water resources are being squeezed between reduced water availability due to climate change and increased demand from population growth and agriculture. Much of the decline in river health has been caused by over-use of water and a failure to safeguard environmental flows.
“Addressing the over-allocation of Victoria’s rivers is not an easy task, but it will be essential if these systems are to survive in a changing climate. We worry that in attempting to not offend any sectors the water plan as currently drafted would fail all Victorians, including those industries most reliant on our freshwater ecosystems and resources, by not guaranteeing their return to health.”
“The only commitments to additional environmental water recovery are recycled from the 2006 Central Region Sustainable Water Strategy. What our rivers really need is a guaranteed share of their own water that is reliable under all climatic conditions. We expect the final water plan to clearly articulate how rivers will be restored and where the water will be coming from.”
“The discussion paper has a welcome renewed focus on using more storm water and recycled water to meet urban needs and making our cities truly water sensitive. The commitment to an Aboriginal Water Program and including cultural values in water resource planning is also welcome as a first step in addressing the water rights of Victoria’s Traditional Owners. However, shifting water around the state through the ‘water grid’ as a solution requires extreme caution due to the massive infrastructure and energy costs involved.”
Juliet Le Feuvre, Healthy Rivers Campaigner, 0428 770 019