Media Releases | 19th Oct, 2016

Environment Victoria reaction to Andrews government’s Water for Victoria plan

Environment Victoria has today welcomed the release of the Andrews government’s water plan Water for Victoria, which attempts to secure the health of Victoria’s rivers and waterways – and the communities and industries dependent on them – from the growing impacts of climate change and population growth.

Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said today:

Water for Victoria is an important next step for water reform in Victoria. It faces up to the fact that our future will be hotter and drier, while our water resources will be under increasing pressure from a growing population.

“The current and future climate change impacts outlined in the plan are alarming. The plan highlights that in many catchments average annual streamflow could reduce by 50 percent in the next 50 years. In the same time period Victoria’s population will almost double.

Water for Victoria highlights that some of our river systems have already experienced major streamflow declines – in the last twenty years parts of the Wimmera River experienced a 72 percent decline in flow, and the Campaspe experienced a 70 percent decline.

“In the face of this challenge, the actions outlined in the Water Plan are welcome but are likely to need strengthening in the future.”

Highlights of the plan include:

  • A commitment to ensuring Victoria’s water industry is carbon neutral and better prepared for climate change;
  • A new Aboriginal water initiative that recognises the need for greater Aboriginal involvement in managing and making decisions about water resources;
  • $222 million to fund river health programs, including a $30 million package to protect and restore riverbanks and $90 million for 36 priority river health projects;
  • A requirement that water authorities develop plans for harvesting more stormwater and for water reuse and recycling; and
  • The reintroduction of Target 155 for Melbourne and equivalent rural water efficiency.

“These are all significant and welcome reforms that will help Victoria adapt to a hotter and drier future.

“However we remain very worried about the future of Victoria’s freshwater ecosystems and water resources in the face of growing pressures. There are continued efforts nationally to weaken the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, despite our northern Victorian rivers being in poor condition as a result of taking too much water out of them for too long.

“We worry that the pace of water reform – both at the state and national level – will not be adequate to ensure that these river systems and communities survive as conditions get hotter and drier.

“We look forward to the implementation phase of Water for Victoria delivering some clear incentives for more efficient water use in Victoria, and stronger protections for the freshwater ecosystems that underpin our economy and lifestyle.”

For interview and further comment:

Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO
Office: (03) 9341 8127 Mobile: 0439 700 501