In late June 2017 it was announced in a press release from the Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Committee of the Victorian Parliament that there was to be an inquiry held into “The management, governance and use of environmental water”.
The committee's terms of reference are;
That the Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Committee inquire into the Victorian Environmental Water Holder annual report 2015-16 and report, no later than June 2018, into the management, governance and use of environmental water in Victoria including, but not limited to —
the assessment of the role of environmental water management in preventing or causing ‘blackwater’ events;
how environmental water and environmental water managers interact with, and utilise, management tools such as carryover and whether the carryover of environmental water impacts on the availability of water for irrigators;
consideration of what barriers exist to the more efficient use of environmental water and how these may be addressed; and
assessment of fees and charges applied to environmental water and whether these differ from those imposed on other water users.
A reading of Hansard has revealed that the impetus for the inquiry has come from a National Party member in the north of the state where there has historically been some questions raised over the use and extent of environmental flows. We have put together summary of the exchange in Hansard on the 10th of May 2017 which can be found here. It is long but worth the read.
As a group which fought hard for environmental flows the Moorabool River PALM members are very keen to ascertain if the small gains that were acheived for the most flow-stressed river in the State are at risk.
Update August 2017
PALM has made a submission to the inquiry which can be found at the following links;