By improving the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains, environmental water intrinsically helps everyone.
- It benefits recreational activities such as canoeing, fishing, bushwalking and birdwatching,
- It sustains healthy Country for Indigenous people who have a continuing connection to rivers, wetlands and floodplains and
- It improves the quality of water which has indirect economic benefits for irrigated farming.
Twenty-eight of the top 50 Victorian recreational fishing spots (as identified in Fisheries Victoria's Improving Inland Recreational Fishing Survey, 2012) are logistically able to receive environmental water. Environmental water was delivered to all of them in 2015/16.
Water delivered to Victorian rivers helps increase fish habitat, boosts fish food and increases 'connectivity', enabling fish to move up and down stream (and onto the floodplain) to feed and breed.
As we can see from how Victorians use waterways, rivers and wetlands are incredibly important to everyone.
Aside from the natural benefits of healthy rivers for communities, we can actively maximise additional community benefits in the way environmental water is stored and used.
We work with waterway managers and managers of water storages (who deliver water to homes, farms and businesses) so we can maximise the release of environmental water to deliver these broader community benefits.
For example, in recent years we have timed the release of environmental water into some rivers that are popular with kayakers so that river levels were higher over a long weekend – when most kayakers wanted to paddle.
We and Victoria's waterway managers (catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water) often receive feedback from communities about the broad range of recreational benefits experienced after environmental water is delivered to sites. We hear reports of bumper recreational fishing catches, increased numbers of bird watchers, improved canoeing and rowing regatta conditions, influxes of campers and bush-walkers and a general improvement in the 'greening' of scenery encouraging picnickers and day-trippers.
Where possible, environmental water managers try to maximise benefits like these, so long as the environmental reasons for the watering are not compromised.