01 Sep Suzanne Witteveen
Suzanne Witteveen, Australia
Suzanne Witteveen loves working in Victoria’s environmental water program policy and oversight, where she has been for six years. Prior to this she undertook other environmental and water management roles in WA and TAS.
Presentation Title: Victoria’s state framework for environmental water outcomes
Since the establishment of the Environmental Water Reserve (EWR) in the state of Victoria, a legislative and policy framework has been developed to manage the water and achieve enduring environmental outcomes. The EWR grew out of the state’s need to balance consumptive use of water resources with the needs of the environment. The diversion of water for towns, irrigation and industry was contributing to an overall decline in health of waterways, particularly during the extended Millennium Drought. Victoria has developed a strong collaborative management framework to manage and deliver environmental water to achieve the best outcomes with the least water. The management of environmental water is aligned to other river restoration programs through an integrated waterway health program that maintains or improves the environmental health of rivers, wetlands, floodplains and estuaries. Partnerships are an important element in achieving environmental outcomes. Catchment Management Authorities and Melbourne Water are the designated waterway managers, responsible for prioritizing waterways and management actions with their local communities. The Victorian Environmental Water Holder manages the environmental water entitlements in regulated systems, which includes prioritizing use of the holdings each year. Water corporations manage river operations and licenses, deliver environmental water in the regulated systems as requested, and manage other flows that contribute to environmental outcomes. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning develops legislation and policy guidance that underpins environmental watering outcomes in Victoria, and oversees a state-wide intervention monitoring program for environmental watering in wetlands and rivers. The state framework is functioning strongly. Future opportunities and challenges include the impact of climate change on environmental water and its outcomes, and providing shared benefits of environmental water to other uses, such as recreational and Aboriginal values. This paper describes Victoria’s framework, and future risks and opportunities, for recovering, protecting, planning for and delivering environmental water.