Our rivers in Victoria haven’t been well looked after in the last 200 years. But a better future is possible.
One where rivers and wetlands are brimming with life. Where communities care for their local waterways and First Nations have the right to protect, manage and own water on their traditional Country. Where our cities store and use water efficiently and our regions have diverse, sustainable industries that provide good jobs.
By coming together and pushing for change, this is the future we can make happen.
Too much water is being taken out of our rivers and it’s drying up wetlands, impacting water quality and preventing birds and fish from being able to breed. Getting our rivers a fair share of water is the key to their survival.
Rivers need a guaranteed share of their own water that is secure under all conditions – not just the leftovers after other users have had their fill.
A healthy Murray-Darling Basin is meant to support us all, not just those with the deepest pockets or powerful connections. We need to keep the pressure on our governments to deliver a Basin Plan that revives our rivers and communities.
Governments must sit down and negotiate real water justice with First Nations peoples in Victoria, so they are able to protect, manage and own water resources. This includes providing appropriate funding for First Nations to buy water in fully-allocated systems and co-designing models for acquiring and holding water entitlements.
Irrigation has a role to play in our regional economies. But for it to be viable under a hotter, drier climate where there is less water available, it also needs to be sustainable. That means asking key questions around: whether we are irrigating in the best places; how we can use less water and make irrigation more efficient; and what crops are best suited to our climate and soils.
We can improve towns and cities across the state so they use water resources more efficiently and sustainably. Under a state-wide plan, we can better capture stormwater runoff, improve rates of water recycling in urban areas, embed water efficiency in homes and more.
Connectivity is the foundation of a healthy river, ensuring it has fish, platypus, waterbirds, shade, quality water and healthy soil. We need to ensure every element of the river system – from the groundwater, to the river banks, floodplains and wetlands – is protected and cared for.
Many of Victoria’s industrial and commercial users have been able to significantly reduce their water use in recent years – with the exception of the remaining coal power stations in the Latrobe Valley. Not only does burning brown coal require huge amounts of water, it is also impacting our groundwater and rivers. Transitioning away from polluting fossil fuels will help protect our climate, water and air.
Freshwater ecosystems are grossly underrepresented in the national system of ecological reserves. Even internationally recognised wetlands such as Westernport Bay and Port Phillip Bay remain poorly protected. More funding and support needs to be granted to catchment management authorities to protect our waterways for generations to come.
You can get all the details in Aquaprint, a community-led vision for water reform in Victoria created by Environment Victoria. Read more here.
Over the last few decades, Environment Victoria has earned a reputation as a credible, respected and important stakeholder in Victorian water management and river health.
We’ve raised the public profile of river and water management issues and influenced policy to protect and restore our state’s waterways. We’ve built and cultivated a network of river champions across the state. Find out more about our successes here >>
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