Page 11 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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Many wetlands are now either disconnected from the rivers that used to naturally fill them, or they are permanently connected to rivers or channels. This means that some wetlands don’t get enough water, and others get too much.
In wetlands, environmental water managers aim to provide the wetting and drying cycles that plants and animals depend on for survival, reproduction and long-term resilience. For example, where wetlands and floodplains have been cut off from natural river flows, environmental watering can reconnect these areas, sometimes using irrigation infrastructure (such as pumps, channels
and regulators).
By improving the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains, environmental watering also supports vibrant and healthy communities. Healthy waterways make cities and towns more liveable, which supports the physical and mental wellbeing of communities. They supply water for towns and diverse industries: agriculture, fishing, real estate, recreation and tourism, among others. Most of Victoria’s towns are located near a river or lake with which the community identifies, and many people travel to their favourite waterway for holidays and to relax, play and connect with nature; and healthy waterways sustain Country for Aboriginal communities.
1.1.4 What is the Victorian environmental watering program, and who is involved?
The Victorian environmental watering program is the ongoing, collaborative management of water for the environment used to improve the health of Victoria’s rivers and wetlands and of the native plants and animals that depend on them.
The program involves a range of groups and organisations. Relationships between local communities, waterway managers, storage managers, land managers, environmental water holders and scientists are the foundation of the program. The program is overseen by the Victorian Minister for Water through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
Many public authorities collaborate to deliver the program: they are referred to as program partners. Waterway managers (catchment management authorities [CMAs] and Melbourne Water) are the regional planning and delivery arm of the program. In consultation with local communities, waterway managers develop environmental watering proposals for the rivers and wetlands in their region. Waterway managers also order water for the environment from storage managers, and they monitor the outcomes
of releases.
Storage managers — designated water corporations — deliver water for all water users including waterway managers and environmental water holders.
The VEWH decides where water for the environment will
be used, carried over or traded, to get maximum benefit
for the state’s waterways. In northern Victoria, the VEWH also works with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and at the New South Wales and South Australian governments to prioritise how and where water is used and to ensure the use of water for the environment is coordinated to optimise the health of the connected waterways of the Murray- Darling Basin.
Public land managers (such as Parks Victoria, DELWP and Traditional Owner land management boards) are closely involved in planning and delivering water for the environment on public land (such as state forests and national parks). Their responsibilities include controlling infrastructure (such as pumps, outlets, gates and channels) and public signage. Some environmental watering also occurs on private land, in partnership with landholders or corporations.
To effectively manage water for the environment, it is essential to understand the environmental values of Victoria’s rivers and wetlands. This understanding draws on the knowledge of local communities and scientists.
Local communities including Traditional Owners help identify environmental values in each region and help monitor the success of environmental watering. Local communities make great use of their local rivers and wetlands, and they bring a wealth of cultural, economic, recreational, social and Traditional Owner perspectives to the program.
Scientists provide indispensable evidence about how water for the environment supports native plants and animals in the short and long terms, and they work with waterway managers to monitor, evaluate and report on environmental watering outcomes.
Citizen scientists are increasingly monitoring environmental watering outcomes. In some regions, Birdlife Australia volunteers help monitor outcomes at wetlands, and Waterwatch volunteers collect water-quality information to inform management decisions about some rivers.
1.1 The Victorian environmental watering program
   Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21 | 9

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