In some systems, water for the environment delivered through
upstream sites can be used again downstream.
This helps to ensure water for the environment is used efficiently
and effectively to achieve optimal environmental benefits, as the Goulburn
River example below illustrates.
This reuse policy, known as return flows, is available in
many systems across northern Victoria. It increases the efficiency of water use and helps reduce the volume of water needed to be
recovered for the environment from consumptive water users.
Our access to return flows is enabled through rules in our environmental
entitlements. Reuse of return flows is also available to the Commonwealth
Environmental Water Holder and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority when we
deliver water on their behalf.
Where possible, return flows are reused to provide benefits
at Victorian environmental sites.
If not needed in Victoria, the Victorian Environmental Water
Holder, Living Murray and Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder return flows will continue to flow across the
border to South Australia, where they will be used to provide environmental
benefits at sites such as the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region.
Case study: Making every drop count in Northern Victoria
Waterway managers, environmental water holders and storage
managers work hard to deliver effective and efficient environmental outcomes in
- Reusing environmental return flows
- Maximising environmental benefits from consumptive water on its way to homes, farms and businesses
- Combining environmental wand consumptive water releases to achieve greater results (for instance, environmental water 'piggybacking' on other water deliveries to achieve larger flows required to trigger fish breeding).
Here are some examples of where these measures were able to
be used to achieve efficient and effective environmental benefits in 2014-15.