Each year the VEWH prepares a seasonal watering plan that prioritises the watering activities of the entire State in an integrated way. This plan sets the scope for environmental watering activities that could occur under a range of climatic scenarios (from extremely dry to wet seasons):
In developing the seasonal watering plan, the VEWH considers seasonal watering proposals prepared by catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water. The seasonal watering proposals identify the desired environmental water use for priority streams and wetlands (that can receive water from environmental water entitlements held in storage) under a range of inflow scenarios. Seasonal watering proposals are informed by regional river health strategies, research and monitoring results, environmental water management plans and scientific studies into the water requirements of streams and wetlands (environmental flow studies).
As seasonal conditions unfold, and water becomes available throughout the year, the VEWH releases seasonal watering statements to communicate decisions on environmental watering activities that are to be undertaken. The statements are a record of the implementation of the seasonal watering plan, and can be made at any time throughout the year. Depending on the nature of the system and the entitlement being used, there may be one or multiple statements made for a particular system. In addition to communicating decisions on environmental watering activities, the seasonal watering statements also authorise a catchment management authority or Melbourne Water to order and deliver water on behalf of the VEWH.
The planning process is outlined below:
It is recognised that environmental water can provide a range of social and economic benefits. Where possible, opportunities to provide complimentary social and economic benefits are considered by catchment management authorities, Melbourne Water and the VEWH when prioritizing environmental watering actions.