River

Have your say on local waterways

Wednesday 3 June, 2009
Have your say on local waterways, in world-first research looking at the social importance of lakes, rivers, creeks, wetlands and estuaries.
Have your say on local waterways, in world-first research looking at the social importance of lakes, rivers, creeks, wetlands and estuaries.

All Victorians adults are invited to participate in the River Health Social Benchmarking project, which includes the My Victorian Waterway Survey being run online in June and July.

Department of Sustainability and Environment Executive Director Sustainable Water and Environment, Jane Doolan, said the project would set a benchmark for how Victorian communities use and value waterways.

"In drought, when water supplies are stretched for everyone, it can be easy to disregard the social importance of waterways in our society," Dr Doolan said.

"Victoria is the national leader in monitoring and managing the physical health of our waterways but until now, nothing of this scale has been done to understand their social importance.

"This project will do that. It will really build upon our waterway managers' understanding of community expectations, attitudes, and behaviours towards waterway management."

The project is being co-ordinated by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne Water and catchment management authorities. It has been developed in conjunction with Victorian social scientists, Victoria University and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The universities are running the survey and analysing the results.

Among other questions, the survey asks people what they use waterways for, what makes a waterway healthy and who is responsible for waterway health.

"The findings will inform management practice and policy, including the Victorian Strategy for the Health of Rivers, Estuaries and Wetlands, currently being renewed under the climate change outlook."

The project is an extension of the successful pilot run in 2007 in three catchment management areas - North Central, North East and Corangamite.

"We are hoping people will take up the offer to have their say on local waterways. All Victorian adults can participate in the survey online - it will only take about 15 minutes," Dr Doolan said.

Some stakeholders groups, such as riparian landholders, will receive surveys in the mail. Phone surveys will also be conducted to ensure a good cross-section of regional Victoria is covered.

People completing the phone or online survey will remain anonymous. If people choose to include their contact details so they can participate in future research their survey answers will not be linked to their contact details, keeping all completed surveys anonymous.

Visit www.surveymonkey.com/myvicwaterway to complete the survey.