Page 21 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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1.2.3 Who contributes to the seasonal watering plan?
Stakeholder engagement about potential environmental watering actions occurs during the development of seasonal watering proposals. The level and method of engagement vary across the state, reflecting the differing systems, watering actions and stakeholders. In some regions, formal environmental watering advisory groups provide the opportunity for waterway managers and interested community members to discuss potential environmental flows in their system or locality for the coming year. In other systems, engagement occurs one-on-one between waterway managers and interested stakeholders. The most interested stakeholders tend to be Traditional Owners, irrigators, farmers, people living close to or with
an interest in a specific waterway, members of recreational groups and members of local environmental groups.
Land managers and storage managers also consider
and endorse, or provide their written support for, the seasonal watering proposals. This ensures releases of water for the environment align with land and storage management objectives and can feasibly be delivered through planned system operations, and that risks can be adequately managed.
For each region, there is a summary of the engagement activities waterway managers undertook when developing seasonal watering proposals: these are in the regional overviews in sections 2 to 5.
1.2.4 Can the seasonal watering plan be changed?
Under the Water Act 1989, the VEWH can only authorise the use of water for the environment if it is consistent with the seasonal watering plan. This is to ensure transparency about what environmental flows are planned and how they are managed.
To ensure flexibility to adapt to changing conditions, the Act allows the VEWH to vary any section of the seasonal watering plan. Variations may be needed to incorporate new knowledge or to address circumstances that were not identified before the start of the water year.
The VEWH makes all variations publicly available at vewh.vic.gov.au as separate attachments to the current seasonal watering plan. You can email general.enquiries@vewh.vic.gov.au for a hard
copy of any attachments.
1.2.5 When isn’t a formal variation required to the seasonal watering plan?
In some instances, there may be unforeseen circumstances that will call for use of water for the environment that does not require a variation to the seasonal watering plan.
These include:
• minor operational adjustments to specific environmental watering actions
• water for the environment being used for environmental emergency management purposes
• small volumes of water for the environment being used for technical investigations or infrastructure maintenance
• facilitating the delivery of water for the environment held by other water holders for downstream, non-Victorian objectives.
As the VEWH cannot anticipate the specifics of these circumstances, it cannot include details about them in this plan. Waterway managers are required to consult the VEWH in all instances where releases of water for the environment do not align with the seasonal watering plan.
Minor operational adjustments
Minor operational adjustments to environmental watering actions may occur from time to time. For example, the targeted river reaches, flow rates, timings, magnitudes and durations detailed in sections 2 to 5 may need to
be adjusted slightly, due to changes in predicted rainfall or other water orders, delivery infrastructure constraints, emerging ecological knowledge or the timing of specific ecological triggers (such as a bird-breeding event). In
all cases, environmental watering actions will still aim to optimise environmental outcomes, in line with the objectives set out in the seasonal watering plan.
Environmental emergency management situations
Water for the environment may be needed for an environmental emergency management situation, for example to mitigate a toxic water quality event. Section 1.3.7 describes how environmental watering emergencies are managed and authorised.
Small technical investigations and maintenance
There may be instances where a small volume of water
for the environment may be used for research and development purposes, or for small-scale infrastructure- testing or maintenance. Such instances are considered on a case-by-case basis and must aim to enhance knowledge and improve the management of water for the environment. They must not compromise the potential to achieve the environmental objectives in the seasonal watering plan.
Facilitating the delivery of water held by other water holders for downstream objectives
Some water held by other water holders is stored in Victorian storages and is sometimes called on to meet downstream demands beyond the scope of this plan (such as for the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth area in South Australia). Delivery of this water is sometimes needed at a time and flow rate that was not scoped in
the seasonal watering plan. The VEWH facilitates and authorises such deliveries, provided the risk of harms to Victoria’s rivers, wetlands and floodplains (and other risks) are appropriately managed.
1.2 The seasonal watering plan
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