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Geelong Landcare Network - Water for Victoria discussion paper

The Landcare Network recently made a submission on the State Government’s Water for Victoria discussion paper.

As stated in the discussion paper, less than 10 percent of waterways in Victoria are ranked as being in ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ environmental condition, particularly in the western half of the State. 

Landcare groups and others invest a lot of time, love and money into improving our local waterways, through fencing-off and revegetating land alongside waterways, monitoring water quality, managing weeds, preventing erosion etc. 

In our submission, we urged the Government to ensure adequate support for these activities. We also highlighted the plight of the Moorabool river system. 

No other river in Victoria has as much water taken out of it as the Moorabool River, with 68% of the water in the river basin allocated. The Government established an environmental water allocation for the Moorabool in around 2010. However, this was only a start - the environmental water allocation (currently 2500 ML per annum) needs to be increased to about 20,000 ML to sustain a basic level of health for the Moorabool River, according to the independent scientific research undertaken in recent years. 

The Corangamite Waterway Strategy 2014-22 designates the Moorabool River as a priority waterway. For the first time, this makes landowners with river frontage on the Moorabool River and Sutherlands Creek West Branch eligible for funding assistance for on-ground works to fence and revegetate the riparian zone. 

Inspired by this, some local community groups got together in August 2015 to develop a grass-roots strategy for getting landholders on board to fence off and revegetate stream frontages in the Moorabool River catchment. This strategy, the ‘Lower Moorabool River Recovery Strategy’ is due to be launched in coming months. 

During the development of the Lower Moorabool River Recovery Strategy, the group was somewhat shocked and puzzled by a Government media release earlier this year announcing a transfer of water to Central Highlands Water from Lal Lal Reservoir to augment the supply of water for Ballarat. 

If this transfer goes ahead, it would deprive the river below Lal Lal of water to the extent that there would be little point in having a strategy to improve the riparian zone. The announcement seems out of step with the Government’s stated intentions in the Sustainable Water Strategy Central Region and the Corangamite Waterway Strategy 2014-22 to remediate the flow-stressed nature of the Moorabool. 

The general sentiment about the Moorabool River is that it has nothing left to give. It is only just being kept alive by the current environmental water entitlement. We urge the government to ensure that water is restored to the river, not taken away. 

Elissa Ashton-Smith, 
Facilitator, Geelong Landcare Network
23 High St, Inverleigh

Ph 0438 525 502