Page 26 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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 1.3 Implementing the seasonal watering plan
Who is involved in the prioritisation process?
Waterway managers, environmental water holders, storage managers and communities (including recreational user groups, environmental groups, Traditional Owners and farming groups) all have a role in the process of prioritising environmental watering actions, depending on the nature and scale of the decisions being made. There is a list of partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the seasonal watering proposal for each system in this plan.
Waterway managers are best placed to advise about the extent and significance of an environmental watering action and about the highest priorities in their region.
The VEWH and other environmental water holders determine the highest watering priorities across regions. The VEWH’s decisions are intended to provide the best possible environmental outcomes for the state. The VEWH makes these decisions in consultation with waterway managers and other program partners as relevant.
Advice from storage managers is generally the key to understanding the feasibility of delivering a watering action, including the flexibility of delivery timing and operational constraints.
Land managers consent to the delivery of environmental flows on their land, and they advise about the feasibility of delivery after considering land management activities, public access and the risks and benefits of the environmental watering action.
The annual prioritisation process is informed by longer-term site prioritisation by waterway managers in consultation with their communities. This prioritisation is detailed in plans such as regional catchment strategies, regional waterway strategies and environmental water management plans. These plans draw on community and scientific knowledge and prioritise sites for water for the environment (and other river health activities) that have high cultural, economic, environmental, social and Traditional Owner values.
Additional input from the community about prioritising water for the environment is provided annually where needed.
1.3.4 Do seasonal conditions affect how water for the environment is used?
In the same way that rainfall patterns influence how people water their gardens or paddocks, different climatic conditions influence how water for the environment
is managed.
Seasonal conditions drive what water will be available during the water year and the environmental watering objectives to be pursued (as explained in subsection 1.2.1). Waterway managers take seasonal conditions into account when prioritising the water for the environment needed at each site. Seasonal planning scenarios describe the range of watering actions that may occur under drought to very wet climatic conditions.
Waterway managers work with the program partners to decide how to optimise the outcomes they can achieve using water for the environment by considering factors including:
• environmental objectives under each climatic scenario including consideration of any essential needs for water for the environment
• how rainfall, natural flooding or the delivery of water for operational and/or consumptive use may contribute to the achievement of environmental objectives
• how water for the environment may be used to build on natural flows or irrigation deliveries to meet the environment’s needs
• natural climatic cues that might increase the likelihood of achieving an ecological outcome.
Planning scenarios are presented in the seasonal watering plan and provide the basis for the adaptive management of water for the environment as the season unfolds. They also provide an early indication of the amount of water that may be used at different sites and whether the VEWH may need to trade water during the season to meet identified environmental needs (as explained in section 1.4).
Figure 1.3.2 provides an example of how different planning scenarios may influence decisions about how water for the environment is managed in a year.
    24 | Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21

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