This submission responds to a first call by the Victoria Department of Environment, Water and Planning for high level input into the SWS which is currently in preparation. You can read it here.
The SWS is a strategic planning tool for water management in Victoria. It is prepared under the Water Act. It is broadly intended to identify the state of water supply and ecosystem health in Victoria and identify pathways to improve water ecosystem health. In this cycle of water planning in Victoria, a ‘long term water resource assessment’ was previously prepared and found that Victoria is already in a drying climate, a greater proportion of the impacts of that drying trend fall on the environment (integrity of water ecosystems), and that going forward measures to ensure environmental security of water (‘water for the environment’) are proportionately more vulnerable to these dynamics under current regulatory arrangements. The ‘preliminary engagement’ phase of the SWS canvasses community preferences and ideas at a high level. Our submission takes issue with some of the framing of water assessment and planning, advances directions to give greater priority to the integrity and resilience of water ecosystems in southern Victoria (in order that they are ecologically sustainable), and looks to alternative water sources and strategies beyond ‘business as usual’.