Victoria State Government: Water for Victoria

In October 2016, Victoria released its latest long-term water strategy, entitled Water for Victoria. This plan provides a contemporary example of inclusive water management, both through its development and the resulting content, for example, through arrangements to support Aboriginal values and recreational values associated with Victoria’s waterways. In addition, the plan takes steps to develop resilience to the effects of climate change.

The Victorian Government engaged many people in a consultative process to develop this strategy. According to its website, “The Water for Victoria discussion paper, published in March 2016, received 272 submissions. Over 700 people also contributed their ideas, knowledge and opinions on Victoria’s water priorities at 27 community and stakeholder workshops across Victoria in April 2016.”

To fully incorporate Aboriginal values in water management, the Victoria government will do the following:

  • Recognise Aboriginal values and objectives of water
  • Include Aboriginal values and traditional ecological knowledge in water planning
  • Support Aboriginal access to water for economic development
  • Build capacity to increase Aboriginal participation in water management

The plan sets out how these objectives will be achieved. Figure 6.1 of the report illustrates how Aboriginal values and objectives to water will be addressed.

Figure 1.1, taken directly from the report, illustrates the climate change adaptation plan, recognising the pressures that climate change will impose on the water supply and on community expectations. The plan explicitly recognises the human-induced climate change impacts that the state has already experienced, including the Millennium Drought.

On pages 30-31, the plan explores the emissions implications of water, setting the goal of Victoria to achieve net-zero emissions in the water sector, which will be done in part through $300 million worth of green bonds. Victoria is the first state in Australia to put this mechanism into place. Already, Victoria’s desalination facilities use the most energy-efficient technologies for water production.

Furthermore, the plan explores and proposes how the water entitlements framework can be further improved to address climate change. Figure 8.1 on page 131 details an adaptive framework for urban, rural, and environmental water planning so that new data, knowledge, and information can be incorporated along the way.

The Victorian Government will invest $537 million over four years to deliver Water for Victoria:

  • $222 million dedicated for the improvement of the health of waterways and catchments;
  • $59.6 million for irrigation modernisation and improving on-farm water use;
  • $58 million for upgrades of rural water systems;
  • $25 million to prepare for floods and emergencies; and
  • $9.7 million as support for Aboriginal participation in water decisions and access to water.

The Water for Victoria strategy provides an example of inclusive Integrated Water Management and water planning to build resilience to climate change, which might provide pointers for similar efforts in the Asia Pacific.

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