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Water for the environment is good for all of us

By improving the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains, water for the environment intrinsically helps everyone.

  • It benefits recreational activities such as canoeing, fishing, bushwalking and birdwatching
  • It sustains healthy Country for Indigenous people who have a continuing connection to rivers, wetlands and floodplains
  • It improves the quality of water, which has indirect economic benefits for irrigated farming.

Twenty-eight of the top 50 Victorian recreational fishing spots (as identified in Fisheries Victoria's Improving Inland Recreational Fishing Survey, 2012) are logistically able to receive water for the environment. 

Water delivered to Victorian rivers helps increase fish habitat, boosts fish food and increases 'connectivity', enabling fish to move up and down stream (and onto the floodplain) to feed and breed. 

As we can see from how Victorians use waterways, rivers and wetlands are incredibly important to everyone.

Aside from the natural benefits of healthy rivers for communities, we can actively maximise additional community benefits in the way water for the environment is stored and used.

We work with waterway managers and managers of water storages (who deliver water to homes, farms and businesses) so we can maximise the release of water for the environment to deliver these broader community benefits.

For example, in recent years we have timed the release of water for the environment into some rivers that are popular with kayakers, so that river levels were higher over a long weekend – when most kayakers wanted to paddle.

We and Victoria's waterway managers (catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water) often receive feedback from communities about the broad range of recreational benefits experienced after water for the environment is delivered to sites. We hear reports of bumper recreational fishing catches, increased numbers of birdwatchers, improved canoeing and rowing regatta conditions, influxes of campers and bush walkers and a general improvement in the greenness of scenery encouraging picnickers and day-trippers.

Where possible, water for the environment managers try to maximise benefits like these, so long as the environmental reasons for the watering are not compromised.

How Victorians use waterways

  • 92% Enjoy Scenery
  • 85% Enjoy animals, plants and birds
  • 76% walk, hike and cycle
  • 69% for picnics and barbecues
  • 37% to plant trees and clear weeds
  • 36% to fish
  • 31% to go boating
  • 19% to go kayaking, canoeing, sailing
  • 28% visit cultural, historical sites
  • Australian livestock 21% for stock and irrigation

How people are involved

Millions of Victorians use rivers and wetlands. We walk our dogs by them, camp near them, swim and fish in them.

So it's not surprising that lots of Victorians get involved in decisions about how water for the environment is used.

How local communities get involved

Each year local communities have a say about environmental priorities in their region when seasonal watering proposals are developed by waterway managers (catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water).

Each of the waterway managers has a unique way of engaging with its communities, based on regional circumstances (taking into consideration factors such as the distance between local towns and the times people are available to contribute).

If you are part of a local group interested in river and wetland health and want to know more about water for the environment in your region, get in touch with your local catchment management authority, or if you live in or around Melbourne contact Melbourne Water.

Find out more information about who and how people are involved in environmental watering decisions in each region.

How Victoria's peak interest groups are involved

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder engages with representatives from peak interest groups across Victoria. We are interested in finding out bigger picture views as to what is working well – and could improve – at a state level.

Thirty farming, Aboriginal, environment and recreation community and industry groups attend the Environmental Water Matters Forum which we hold every 18 months.  

It's a fantastic opportunity to hear from others who are interested in water for the environment and for us to get feedback about how environmental watering is managed.

We and our partners in the environmental watering program are also working with Aboriginal groups in Victoria on cultural values mapping projects, which can be a crucial first step to achieving Aboriginal environmental outcomes from water for the environment.

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder also invests in innovative citizen science projects relating to environmental watering such as the Western Victoria angler project. It helps anglers find out how the limited volumes of water for the environment are being used in the Wimmera and Glenelg rivers. This project is run by the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority.

Page last updated: 12/12/19