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:
People for a Living Moorabool are among a group of community organisations who have collectively released a Joint Statement on the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy.
Page 2 of 3