The Geelong Times has run a front page story on PALM's call for better monitoring of catchment dams within the Moorabool River Catchment.
The catchment has one of the highest ratio of total private dam capacity compared to inflows in Victoria. The volume is equal to that held by Barwon Water's West Barwon Dam in the Otways.
Private dam development is accelerating putting further strain on the State's most flow stressed river. Without better controls, monitoring and compliance the growth in such dams will further erode small gains in environmental flows that have been secured for the river.
PALM is currently finalising a study looking at the last decade of dam growth which it hopes will inform the following action within the latest Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy
Action 4-13: Review of water resource risks in small, dry, peri-urban catchments
Southern Rural Water will lead a project over two years to review resource risk and share evidence and reporting to build a shared understanding with communities on the risks, consequences and mitigation options we can use to address the increasing effects of small catchment dams.
This project will focus on the upper Maribyrnong and upper Moorabool catchments (including tributaries) as identified hotspots, but recommendations from this review may be relevant to other catchments.
The online version of the article can be found here:
PALM welcomes the recent annoucement from DELWP of planning scheme amendment VC 201 designed to give better protection to rivers like the Moorabool. How significant these changes will be remains to be seen but they should assist advocacy groups like PALM who have had to work hard to protect the river and its flood plains from developer excesses.
Stronger planning policies and landscape controls to protect the Rivers of the Barwon, Waterways of the West and rivers and creeks across Victoria
Waterways, lakes, wetlands and billabongs are vital features of Victoria’s diverse landscape. They sustain ecosystems and communities while providing the opportunity for us to connect with nature, relax and play. These environmental assets also have significant ecological, cultural, social and landscape significance.
Gazetted on 16 December 2022, Planning Scheme Amendment VC201 delivers stronger recognition and protection for our waterways, lakes, wetlands and billabongs. It aims to improve waterway health, amenity and access while acknowledging the important community and cultural values associated with waterways.
Amendment VC201 provides a substantial acknowledgement of Traditional Owner values and custodianship of waterways. It recognises the importance of protecting the living cultural values and heritage relating to waterway systems.
Now included in the Planning Scheme is the following:
Rivers of the Barwon
To maintain and enhance the natural landscape, biodiversity, cultural and social values, and the
Traditional Owner living cultural heritage values of the Rivers of the Barwon, comprising the
Barwon (Parwan), Leigh (Waywatcurtan), Moorabool (Mooroobull) and Yarrowee (Yarowee)
Rivers, their tributaries and wetlands.
Protect places of living cultural heritage value to the region’s Traditional Owners including the
confluences of the Leigh, Barwon and Moorabool Rivers, Lal Lal Falls and the Lake Connewarre
Protect and enhance the environmental qualities and landscape values of the headwaters of the
Barwon, Yarrowee and Moorabool Rivers and the tributaries of the Rivers of the Barwon.
Protect and enhance wetlands and significant waterbodies including Lake Gherang, Wurdiboluc
Reservoir, Lake Modewarre, Lake Thurrumbong, Lake Ayrey, West Barwon Dam, and Ramsar
Convention listed Lake Connewarre, Reedy Lake and Hospital Swamp from development that
threatens their ability to support terrestrial, aquatic and avian species.
Protect views of significant landscapes including gorges and waterfalls along the Moorabool River,
including the Lal Lal Falls, the steep escarpments and falls of the Barwon River, the open rural
scenery of the Leigh and Yarrowee Rivers and the expansive and open wetlands of the Lake
Balance the protection and restoration of the Rivers of the Barwon with planned urban growth and
Design and site development in urban growth areas with river frontage to provide opportunities
for waterway access, activation, and conservation.
Encourage development to create links between open space corridors along the rivers with activity
centres including Geelong and Ballarat.
Protect and prioritise movement and green linkages and public access to the river along river
corridors including the Wallaby Track in Ballarat, River Track in Inverleigh, and Barwon River
Trail in Geelong.
Protect and enhance existing and proposed parklands along the Barwon, Leigh, Moorabool and
Monday 5th September 2022
People for A Living Moorabool welcomed the release of the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy announced by the Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Harriet Shing today.
“This has been a long process but one which will hopefully relieve some of the stresses on the Moorabool River.” PALM’s coordinator Cameron Steele said today.
The Strategy is a high-level document providing plans for Victoria’s water future. It contains actions which will directly impact Victoria’s most flow stressed river.
“These are absolutely vital measures to help a river which has lost a further 20% of its inflows due to climate change over the last 15 years” Mr Steele said. “It really is a race against time to halt the decline of this magnificent river and it is heartening to finally have that urgency recognised by both Government and our water authorities. But it is still a long way from the 17,000ML required to secure a healthy future for this river.”
An upgrade of the Melbourne Geelong Pipeline will see the long-term average equivalent of 3000ML of water transferred from Barwon Water’s share of the Lal Lal Reservoir . A further 700ML from the Bostock Reservoir will assist the East Moorabool in a shared arrangement with the Wadawurrung and the environment.
Other measures announced include a study into the impact of small catchment dams in the Moorabool and Maribyrnong rivers. The Moorabool River Catchment has one of the highest volumes of water impounded in farm and commercial dams compared to its inflows and this has a direct impact on the health of the river.
“We have seen a dramatic acceleration in the construction of commercial and smaller catchment dams over the last three years eroding environmental flows gained for the river. This must be addressed otherwise we are simply giving with one hand and taking with another, something which is utterly unsustainable.” Mr Steele said.
An investigation into the rewatering of a Durdidwarrah wetland in the Brisbane Ranges NP was also included. PALM would like to acknowledge the efforts of Wadawurrung man Barry Gilson in helping to secure this action.
Link to Premier’s release:
12th July 2022
The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority in partnership with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation have released the Murrabul Yaluk Water Quality Monitoring Program Report 2021.
As very welcome piece of collaboration between the CCMA and the Wadawurrung it should be applauded. This is a great example of shared knowledge strengthening and empowering both organisations and it bodes well for managing the future of river's like the Moorabool.
A special recognition needs to go to Kristen Lees, Project Officer Regional Citizen Science at the Corangamite CMA who has been instrumental in driving the partnership.
The four sites that were monitored were:
Site 1 - Lal Lal Creek at Lal Lal Falls Picnic Ground
Site 2 - Moorabool River at Ford (Dolly Creek Rd bridge crossing)
Site 3 - CO_MOO023 Moorabool River at Sharps Road crossing She Oaks
Site 4 - CO_MOO045 Moorabool River at Lilydale House, Dog Rocks Rd, Batesford
A summary of the results concluded:
"• pH is consistent across all four sites with the majority of
results within the Excellent to Good range.
• The dissolved oxygen saturation was lowest at CO_LAL080
ranging from Degraded to Fair. This site does not receive
eWatering. The three sites that are influenced by eWater had
the majority of results ranging from Good to Excellent.
• Electrical conductivity was best at CO_MOO004 the
majority of results rating as Good, and poorest at
CO_LAL080 with the majority of results ranging from
Fair to Poor. Of the three sites that are influenced by eWater
Electrical conductivity results declined as we moved
• Reactive phosphorus results were worst at CO_LAL080
rating from Fair to Poor.
• Turbidity results were consistently Good to Excellent across
all four sites. However, CO_MOO023 and CO_MOO045 did
have Poor condition ratings for the 26th of October 2021
and the 18th of June 2021.
• Aquatic macro-invertebrate ALT SIGNAL2 site scores
(number of creatures / SIGNAL2 score) in 2021 were varied
with CO_LAL080 having an ALT SIGNAL2 score of <4 rating
as 'Severe Pollution', CO_MOO004 having an ALT SIGNAL2
score of between 4 and 5 rates as 'Mild Pollution'. Moving
downstream CO_MOO023 had Autumn 2021 results rate as
'Moderate Pollution' and Spring 2021 being <4 rate as
'Severe Pollution' and CO_MOO045 Autumn 2021 results
rate as 'Severe Pollution' and Spring 2021 rates as
It is the last observation which is the most confronting. While the low ALT Signal scores have flagged both Mild and Severe 'Pollution' these are instead more likely a reflection of poor flows something which so severely afflicts the Moorabool River.
There are obvious signs that the limited environmental water is having some impact on sites it reaches but the river desperately needs more.
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.”
Thank you for the Times News Group for running this story in a busy Federal election period.
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/
As always we are available to take any questions via email on
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.
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."