Victoria’s water administration landscape looks set to change as the State Government expresses its dissatisfaction with authorities’ capacity to engage with their local communities and understand future rainfall patterns.
A new-look water strategy is on the cards after the government recently called for expressions of interest for board positions for all of the state’s water boards, catchment management authorities (CMAs) and coastal boards.
Along with 132 board of governance positions declared vacant on 19 water authorities across Victoria, there are 46 positions available on the 10 regional CMAs, nine roles on the Victorian Catchment Management Council and board of governance positions up for grabs on three regional coastal boards and the Victorian Coastal Council.
After water and land ownership was separated, Victoria’s metropolitan and peri-urban water boards became commercial water traders and independent businesses, but still accountable to government for their governance.
The catchment management authorities are responsible for the condition of land and water resources and, in cooperation with Landcare groups, deliver community on-ground works to reduce nutrient inflow into waterways.
It appears the State government hopes to develop policy and practice that favours water security hand-in-hand with urban, and particularly metropolitan, growth in Victoria.
“Victoria needs diverse and highly skilled people to deal with the environmental and economic challenges of the future – climate change, rainfall variability and rapid population growth,” said Water Minister, Lisa Neville.
“Preserving the future of our water supplies requires a new vision and that calls for a fresh and balanced approach, starting at the top.”
Issues for future water management figures to consider include retaining clean catchments.
One example is in the Thomson Reservoir catchment, which is the major reservoir for Melbourne to ensure it is as pristine as possible, to avoid bushfire contamination of Melbourne’s water.
The government has particularly encouraged women to express their interest in the water governance roles, with the Premier recently stating women should make up 50 pc of appointments to statutory boards.
As part of the changes, the State government recently confirmed funding for 68 Landcare community facilitators for the next four years.
In recent years, many Landcare facilitators are housed within CMAs, in a strategic move to reduce costs of delivery and develop more strategic partnerships between community and government.
Environment, Climate Change and Water Minister, Lisa Neville, has flagged a review of the Landcare program over the next 12 months.
It is expected the review will encourage community groups to be more self-reliant in the long term.
“Landcare facilitators support local groups, projects and initiatives across the state to preserve the environment,” Ms Neville said.
“We are supporting facilitators to empower locals to act for the environment and enable groups to become self-supporting.
“The review will find opportunities to develop the best possible long term arrangements for Landcare.”
Source: Stock & Land