Strategy and planning
State waterway health policy and targets
The Victorian Waterway Management Strategy provides the policy direction for managing Victoria's waterways over an eight-year period.
The Strategy aims to maintain or improve the condition of our waterways so they can support environmental, social, cultural and economic values that are important to communities. It provides direction for regional decision-making, investment and management issues for waterways, as well as the roles and responsibilities of management agencies.
Aspirational targets are included in the strategy for long-term resource condition outcomes (to be achieved in 8+ years) and management outcomes (to be achieved in 1–8 years). Progress against these targets will be publicly reported by the Department Environment and Primary Industries.
The development of this strategy has involved several stages and a strong program of stakeholder consultation. You can see the key stages in the strategy development process below:
A six-week public consultation period on the Draft Victorian Waterway Management Strategy in late 2012 allowed all Victorians to have their say on the proposed policy and actions. A series of regional information sessions were also held at ten locations across Victoria to explain the draft policy and listen to feedback from the community.
The aim of public consultation was to obtain feedback on the draft policy directions for waterway management to inform the development of the final strategy.
The promise to the public was to "keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision".
A total of 78 formal submissions were received from the public consultation process and this feedback informed the development of the final Strategy. A report on key themes from the public consultation period and proposed changes for the final strategy was sent to all submitters and was made available on the Department's website.
Regional waterway health planning, priority setting and targets
In Victoria, there are ten catchment management regions and each has a catchment management authority to co-ordinate integrated management of land, water and biodiversity. Catchment management authorities also have specific responsibilities for waterway management (under the Water Act 1989), except in the Port Phillip and Westernport region where Melbourne Water have the waterway management responsibilities. Collectively, the nine catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water are referred to as the 'waterway managers'.
The waterway managers have the lead role in developing and delivering regional programs for waterway management. The range of functions that waterway managers undertake includes:
- developing a regional Waterway Strategy and associated action plans
- developing and implementing work programs
- authorising works on waterways, acting as a referral body for planning applications, licences to take and use water and construct dams, for water use and other waterway health issues
- identifying regional priorities for environmental water management and facilitating delivery of environmental water
- providing input to water allocation processes
- developing and co-ordinating regional floodplain management plans
- managing regional drainage in specified areas
- responding to natural disasters and incidents affecting waterways such as bushfires, floods and algal blooms
- undertaking community participation and awareness programs.
The regional Waterway Strategies (RWSs) are a single planning document for river, estuary and wetland management in each region and drive implementation of the management approach outlined in the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy.
The RWSs will be developed by waterway managers in partnership with other regional agencies, authorities and boards involved in natural resource management, plus Traditional Owners, regional communities and other key stakeholders. For coastal regions, the RWSs will include the management of estuary condition, highlighting the importance of estuaries as the link between catchments, coasts and the marine environment.
The RWSs will outline regional goals for waterway management. High value waterways will be identified and from those a subset of priority waterways will be determined for the eight-year planning period. A strategic regional work program of management activities for priority waterways will be developed. The regional work program will provide clear direction to guide investment in waterway management by the Victorian Government.
The RWSs will also identify regional priorities for environmental water management over the eight-year planning period, together with the complementary management activities required at those sites. This information will be used as a key input to environmental water planning arrangements.
The regional priority setting process relies on information about values, threats and risks. It is vital that this information is collected and described in a consistent way and, where possible, that the information is based on actual data (for example, data collected from on-ground monitoring activities). A database has been developed to house this information and support the regional priority setting process. The Aquatic Value Identification and Risk Assessment (AVIRA) database contains information about the values and threats associated with selected river, estuary and wetland assets.
The AVIRA manual provides an outline of the AVIRA Framework, the AVIRA software application and the waterway values, threats and risk assessment process.