Implementation and monitoring
Funding for waterway management in Victoria comes from five principal sources:
- the Victorian Government
- the waterways charge in the Port Phillip and Westernport region
- regions and individuals
- the Australian Government
- the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Other funds supporting waterway management include funds from local government, industry and philanthropic trusts. Significant support is also provided through 'in-kind' contributions from local community groups and individuals.
The Victorian Government provides funding to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and nine Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) specifically for river, estuary and wetland management from two major sources:
- core funding to undertake statutory functions (as specified under the Water Act 1989) and waterway management activities as part of the Victorian Waterway Management Program
- funding from the Environmental Contribution (EC), which is a legally required contribution from water corporations for the purposes of funding initiatives that seek to promote the sustainable management of water or to address adverse environmental impacts of water consumption and extraction.
Investment into regional waterway management programs and activities is guided by the priorities developed in each region by CMAs in consultation with local communities. Annual project proposals, based on regional priorities, are prepared by waterway managers, reviewed by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, and approved by the Minister for Water. These projects typically involve onground works to enhance waterways (fencing, revegetation, erosion control, habitat improvement) as well as activities to inform and engage local communities in these works. Once approved, projects are delivered in accordance with Service Level Agreements signed between DEPI and the CMAs, which set expectations in relation to project payments, delivery and reporting.
Investment into waterway health also occurs following serious natural disasters (such as floods and bushfires) in the form of repairs to damage of waterways assets, including erosion control structures, fences and vegetation. This work is funded through the Australian Government's Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
The regional Waterway Strategies provide clear direction for regional implementation of priority management activities over the eight-year planning period. Waterway managers implement many of these activities and work together with a range of management partners including regional agencies and authorities, landholders and community groups.
Typical management activities include fencing, riparian revegetation, erosion control, re-establishment of instream habitat, provision of fish passage, negotiation of management agreements with landholders and community education and awareness raising activities.
Managing grazing on riparian land
When waterways are fenced, landholders often want to know if they can still undertake some grazing in the fenced riparian area. 'Controlled grazing' can be a useful management tool in some circumstances.
A decision support tool and guidelines for managing grazing on riparian land have been developed to determine the level of acceptability of grazing in different types of riparian land. For more information go to Managing grazing on riparian land.
Riparian fencing in flood-prone areas
Major floods in Victoria in 2010, 2011 and 2012 resulted in significant damage to, or loss of, fences installed close to rivers and creeks.
Guidelines for riparian fencing in flood-prone areas have been developed to assist land managers to minimise future flood damage. The guidelines help to select the most appropriate fence type, design, location and building technique. For more information go to flood-prone fencing guidelines.
Changes to take and use licence fees
Take and use licence fees have been reduced for landholders who fence off Crown frontages on waterways to manage stock access as part of riparian management projects. For more information go to Changes to take and use licences.
There is a strong integration of environmental water management with these management activities. For more information about environmental watering in Victoria see www.vewh.vic.gov.au.
Management activities (or interventions) on waterways take place at many sites across Victoria each year. It is not practical or cost-effective to measure the outcomes of these management activities at all these locations. Therefore, a program of targeted monitoring is undertaken across the state.
Existing statewide resource condition assessment programs (such as the Index of Stream Condition) have been established to assess the broad condition patterns across the state over the long-term, and not to evaluate shorter-term, site-scale change. However, these two monitoring approaches are complementary and together will provide vital information to support adaptive management.
Regional and state agencies have begun to undertake site-scale monitoring at targeted locations across the state.
Resource condition assessment
Resource condition assessment across the state is vital to understand the broader patterns and changes in the condition of waterways and provide information to assess the success of the Victorian Waterway Management Program. Statewide monitoring of resource condition is undertaken using three specifically developed Indices of Condition: the Index of Stream Condition (ISC); the Index of Wetland Condition (IWC); and the pilot Index of Estuary Condition (IEC).
The Indices of Condition integrate data about the key components of rivers, wetlands and estuaries that are important from an ecological perspective (water regime, water quality, aquatic life, physical form and riparian vegetation). They have been designed to assess environmental condition and successive assessments should begin to broadly demonstrate the cumulative effect of management interventions across Victoria.
The Indices of Condition were not designed to measure the local-scale effects of particular management activities at specific sites and do not currently measure change in condition over time (that is, trend).The Indices of Condition are currently used to provide a spatial 'snapshot' of condition across the state at a single point in time.
More information about the IWC and copies of past reports are available on the About and Publications pages of the Index of Condition System website.