State Budget funding to ease the plight of the highly stressed Moorabool River welcomed by advocacy group.
People for A Living Moorabool (PALM) today cautiously welcomed the announcement of funding for relief for the Moorabool River in the Victorian State Budget 2022.
Group Co-ordinator Cameron Steele said, “It was vital that as Victoria's most flow stressed river the Moorabool's condition be both acknowledged and addressed in this year's budget, and thankfully it was.”
“If used properly these funds will help ease the continuing decline of this struggling but still beautiful river.”
According to the State Government's Long Term Water Assessment the Moorabool has seen a decline of inflows due to climate change of over 20% during the last 15 years.
“This has been disastrous for an already severely over allocated river” Mr Steele said, “and it will be only through urban water authorities like Barwon Water or Central Highlands Water in Ballarat decreasing their large entitlements that the condition of the river and its wildlife will ever improve.”
“Water efficiency and integrated water management measures flagged in the Budget will only have an impact if a portion of the water saved is returned to our stressed rivers.” Mr Steele cautioned.
“Ultimately it will take substantial investment in new climate proof sources of water, such as recycling or desalination, to make a lasting difference for our local rivers, and we await a proper commitment by government to this future.”
PALM is one of many river advocate groups across southern Victoria awaiting the State Government's final Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy due out next month.
“This is when the specific measures designed to assist rivers like the Moorabool will be revealed.” Mr Steele said.
“They will need to be both effective and meaningful to have any hope of securing the Moorabool River's long-term future and allocating funds for them is a welcomed start.”
The State Government has released the discussion draft of the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy. This is a pivotal high level policy document which will help direct the future or otherwise of the Moorabool River.
Fortunately initiatives contained within it around increased environmental flows for the Moorabool bring some hope that the river's decline may be addressed.
It is important that the community continues to fight for these measures to be in the final document.
- Fill in the short DELWP survey at https://engage.vic.gov.au/central-and-gippsland-region-sustainable-water-strategy/survey and put rivers first.
- Make a submission through https://engage.vic.gov.au/central-and-gippsland-region-sustainable-water-strategy/comment-proposed-directions . You will have the opportunity to click either agree or disagree to a list of proposed directions and those concerning the Moorabool start at Chapter 12. You can also upload a written submission which some supporters have indicated they will do.
If you would like to learn more about this proess the department have made a series of webinars available which can be booked here: https://engage.vic.gov.au/central-and-gippsland-region-sustainable-water-strategy/rsvp-community-information-sessions-and-webinars
Further there is an interactive Community Information Page which can be found here: https://www.consultationspace.com/DELWP/WaterStrategy/
UPDATE May 2022
The consultation on the CGRSWS is now complete and the final document is being readied for release. We will let people know when it is made public.
The Moorabool River must not die.
Victoria’s most flow-stressed river’s very survival faces a threat as great as that confronting Australia’s largest river system – the Murray-Darling.
But, thanks to its friends, the Moorabool is the star of a film that tells you why.
This unassuming but environmentally important river flows from the Wombat Forest near Ballarat to Geelong’s Barwon River. It supports diverse wildlife, as well as farms, vineyards, tourism and towns.“compelling, powerful and utterly beautiful and information rich ….. ”
“the River Moorabool” was made by People for A Living Moorabool (PALM) and Sheoaks Films. This compelling film explores the consequences of water demands on the Moorabool River, particularly in the face of climate change. It features interviews with local landowners, scientists, and healthy river advocates.
The film has been already shown to many hundreds of people through the region's Landcare Networks, various water agencies and Councils.
PALM is now making the film available publicly to coincide with the beginning of the consultation period for the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy, a pivotal document for the river's future. We hope it will assist the broader community understand why the Moorabool River is so threatened and inform those who are intending to make submissions or contribute in other ways though the next 8 weeks.
PALM Press Release regarding the Discussion draft of the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy
People for A Living Moorabool (PALM) today cautiously welcomed the draft/discussion paper for the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy released Friday by Minister Lisa Neville as the first step in developing a living future for the Moorabool River.
Cameron Steele (PALM’S Coordinator) said today: "PALM is looking forward to detailed public engagement with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP} through the public consultation period of the discussion draft."
"We applaud the government's continued recognition of the Moorabool as Victoria's most flow stressed river. This acknowledgement is vitally important as the basis for creating this new future for the Moorabool."
"The government has discussed the main issues that will need to be tackled to bring this river back from the brink and it appears the two water authorities, Barwon Water and Central Highlands Water, have recognised their past heavy over-reliance on this badly impacted river and are looking to do something about it.”
“The discussion paper acknowledges the impact of a record density of farm dams. The huge issue of large annual flow losses from the Moorabool River into the Batesford Quarry is also referenced."
"The government provides small five and ten year targets for more environmental water to be left in the river, and a much larger flow target – but this comes after 50 years."
"We have a variety of questions that will need to be addressed. They include:
- how these environmental flow targets were developed
- just what values the government thinks these flow targets will protect
- how robust the government's promises are especially without either a desalination plant in Geelong or potable reuse of recycled water.”
Mr Steele also said that PALM is committed to encouraging involvement of those within the Moorabool catchment and wider community. As part of that commitment PALM recently collaborated with the local film maker “Sheoaks Films” to produce the documentary 'the River Moorabool'”.
"This film has inspired interest in the threats facing our region's second largest river. The film will be made available online from the 15th of October through the PALM website (mooraboolriver.org).
"The public release of our film is looking to drive not only a greater community awareness of the plight of the Moorabool as well as the often hidden costs involved in supplying our current drinking water, but also to stimulate greater public pressure on the Victorian Government to give the Moorabool a living future."
The Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy provides a once in a decade opportunity to reset policy around around rivers like the Moorabool. PALM people were involved in the original strategy over a decade ago and know how important it is for community voices are heard through the process. Unfortunately those community voices have only been meaningfully included very late in the predraft stage. People for A Living Moorabool along with other community groups have sought to secure a more robust consultation framework going forward.
The Central and Gippsland Water Strategy is a high level document which will hopefully include a pathway for returning to the Moorabool River vital flows to secure a future for it and the ecosystems it supports.
People for A Living Moorabool have directed a series of questions to the DELWP team:
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