VICTORIAN Water Minister Lisa Neville last week announced the release of 'Water for Victoria' – a framework to guide smarter water management, bolster the water grid and support more liveable Victorian communities.
Ms Neville said the document is the first comprehensive state-wide water policy in more than 10 years. It includes $537 million in funding over the next four years for projects to strengthen water security for communities, protect jobs and agriculture, recognise Aboriginal water values and improve environmental health.
In a first for Victoria, the plan recognises the value water has for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians. It includes $9.7 million to support economic development and an Aboriginal Water Program to ensure Aboriginal participation in the planning and management of water resources.
In another first, the plan acknowledges the importance of recreational water use – with projects funded for Donald Weir Pool, Taylors Lake and Green Lake near Sea Lake to build drought resilience.
The plan seeks to expand the water grid, modernise existing water infrastructure and improve water delivery efficiency across the regions. It will develop a market trial in southern Victoria to harness the potential of the water grid and enable water to move to where it is most valuable.
'Water for Victoria' also looks at how to make better use of alternative, fit-for-purpose supplies – including recycled water and stormwater – to create more liveable and resilient communities.
A review of sustainable water strategies will help better manage water for shared benefits in communities – balancing the needs of irrigators, towns, farms, local businesses and recreational water users.
The plan includes projects announced as part of the Victorian Budget 2016/17 including:
- $222 million to address the health of waterways and catchments;
- $25 million to prepare Victorians for floods and other emergencies;
- $58 million for rural water system upgrades at Wedderburn, Bacchus Marsh and Werribee;
- $59.6 million to support irrigation modernisation projects and improve on-farm water efficiency; and
- $30 million to extend the water grid in South Gippsland.
More information is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website at <http://www.delwp.vic.gov.au/water/water-for-victoria>.