Turtle

Water strategy a boost to rivers, wetlands

Tuesday 15 December, 2009
The release of the Victorian Government's Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy last week was a positive outcome for northern Victoria's rivers, wetlands and floodplain sites, incoming GB CMA chief executive officer, Chris Norman said.

The release of the Victorian Government's Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy last week was a positive outcome for northern Victoria's rivers, wetlands and floodplain sites, incoming GB CMA chief executive officer, Chris Norman said.

Chris Norman said the Strategy addressed critical issues such as how to manage a future with less water and was the result of 18 months' consultation.

"The GB CMA, along with other Consultative Committee members has debated ways to balance the needs of urban and rural water users and the environment and increase reliability for all water users in a future where there may be less water."

The Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy Consultative Committee had representation from the four northern Victorian Catchment Management Authorities, urban and rural water corporations, local government, Environment Victoria and the Victorian Farmers' Federation.

Chris Norman said the final strategy delivered a suite of key actions to improve the environment's ability to respond to periods of prolonged drought and climate change.

"Managing the environment in a future where there is likely to be less water means we have to be smarter in how we use our environmental water."

"In prolonged drought like the one we have been experiencing for 13 years, or under climate change scenarios, the simple fact is our rivers and wetlands will have far less water flowing into them than in the past."

"Traditionally, the environment gets most of its water from unregulated flows and when reservoirs spill. Under climate change or periods of prolonged drought, reservoirs will spill less often - if we continued to rely heavily on these sources of water, it would be bad news for our rivers, wetlands and floodplain sites."

"What this Strategy delivers is a targeted way to get the environment water to meet specific needs even in times of extreme dry."

Key actions delivered by the Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy to safeguard the environment include:

  • identify water recovery targets to guide the Commonwealth's $3.1 billion buyback program
  • establish a Victorian Environmental Water Holder to coordinate and prioritise the delivery of environmental water across the region
  • identify the need for structural works to improve environmental benefits and reduce the need for environmental water recovery
  • improve the efficiency of environmental water use by introducing innovative carryover arrangements and through the reuse of return flows, complementary works and consumptive water being used en route
  • establish clear processes for adapting the way we manage rivers and wetlands, including environmental water use, to suit seasonal conditions in a given year
  • develop a reasoned and transparent process to change environmental objectives if necessary while ensuring this is not done prematurely.

Victoria has shown that even during the current prolonged drought, careful and targeted use of environmental water can deliver significant benefits including the protection of threatened species and securing of drought refuges to our important native flora and fauna.

"These measures strengthen our approach to manage rivers, wetlands and floodplains in northern Victoria to protect environmental assets against prolonged drought and climate change," Chris Norman said.

 

 

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