Glenelg River users find common ground on water releases

Glenelg River users find common ground on water releases

More than 30 Glenelg River users met in Casterton on Tuesday March 28 2017 to share their ideas on environmental water releases in the Glenelg River.

Farmers, business people, anglers and environmentalist hailing from Nelson to Balmoral joined in discussion about environmental releases at the Glenelg Hopkins CMA event.

Organiser Tori Perrin said the forum was part of a push to include more consultation in their annual planning for environmental water releases in the Glenelg.

“We know the science behind releasing water for the environment and our monitoring shows that the Glenelg is benefitting from these releases, but doing this right is about more than just science.”

“We want to make sure that the timing of these releases take into account things that are important to people in the catchment.”

“We are hoping events like this will help us learn more about how these releases effect individuals along the river, from farmers that use the water for stock and domestic proposes to tourism businesses and anglers.”

She said, although they have been timing releases based on the needs of Glenelg River users for some time now, there is always room for improvement.

“Including the community in our decision-making process about when to release water is nothing new. For instance, we release our first summer fresh to coincide with the summer holidays which lifts water quality at the right time of year so it is at its best for the holiday season.”

Ms Perrin said releasing environmental water was essential for maintaining the health of the Glenelg River.

“The Glenelg River has been modified to provide water for reservoirs, dams and towns so that now almost half the water that once flowed in it is removed each year, which has really affected the health of the river. Environmental water releases give a proportion of this lost water back to the river, bringing it back to life.”

Telangatuk East sheep farmer and keen fisherman Charlie Officer attended the forum. He said it was good to get a sense that people in the CMA are listening.

“When we just started it was just black and white, and now we’ve got a grey area  where we are meeting in the middle.”

“With the public getting more involved hopefully we can get the message back to the wider community and answer those questions on environmental water.”

Harrow sheep farmer JD McGennisken said the forum was very informative.

“Landowners feel like we are starting to make some serious headway with the condition of the river.

“The river cuts directly through my land so it’s pretty important to me.

“I can see that it is improving with environmental flows.”

Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the Victorian Government’s water plan – Water for Victoria – recognises the need for the water sector to work with local communities to identify and support shared benefits of environmental water, including recreational uses where possible.

“It’s very important to have the community involved in decisions about environmental water. This reflects requirements in the water plan and ensures we can deliver shared benefits,” she said.

The Glenelg Hopkins CMA is planning further consultation sessions about environmental water in future months, to be involved please contact the CMA on 5571 2526.