Page 28 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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     1.3 Implementing the seasonal watering plan
1.3.5 How are shared cultural, economic, recreational, social and Traditional Owner benefits considered in environmental watering decisions?
By improving the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains, environmental flows also provide benefits to communities. Community benefits may be direct: for example, water
for the environment can increase populations of popular angling fish species, sustain healthy Country and totem species for Aboriginal communities and improve water quality to the benefit of irrigators. Or it may be opportunistic: for example, the delivery of an environmental flow might
be timed to increase opportunities for kayakers and so the public know about the flow and can take advantage of it.
In planning for environmental flows, the primary purpose is to optimise environmental benefits. Year by year and case by case, the VEWH and its partners consider opportunities raised by communities to use water for the environment to provide additional cultural, economic, recreational, social and Traditional Owner benefits. Where possible, these opportunities are incorporated into watering decisions, provided they do not compromise environmental outcomes.
Shared community benefits of water for the environment can sometimes be actively optimised by making decisions around the storage, delivery and use of the water to support community events (such as local fishing, waterskiing or rowing competitions).
When planning for and delivering environmental flows,
the VEWH and its program partners look for opportunities to achieve shared community benefits in both the short and longer terms, without compromising environmental outcomes. Longer-term community benefits may sometimes require short-term inconvenience. For example, floodplain watering in Hattah Lakes may limit access
and so inconvenience campers for a short time, but the environmental benefits of the watering are likely to improve tourism and recreational opportunities in the longer term. In such cases, waterway managers work closely with land managers to limit disruption to users as much as possible.
Waterway managers work with communities to identify
the cultural, economic, recreational, social and Traditional Owner values of waterways and to consider them in regional catchment strategies, regional waterway strategies, environmental water management plans and seasonal watering proposals.
The opportunities identified for 2020–21 are summarised in the introduction to each region in sections 2 to 5 of
this plan. In each system section, watering actions are specifically planned to an Aboriginal cultural, social or recreational objective are identified with the icons shown in Figure 1.3.3. This is a new way for the VEWH to identify cultural and recreational values in the seasonal watering plan, and it expects to refine this approach in future years to better capture these values.
Figure 1.3.3 Cultural, social and recreational objectives icons
  Watering planned and/or delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support Aboriginal cultural values and uses
   Watering planned to support water sports activities (e.g. canoeing, kayaking, rowing, swimming, water skiing)
     Watering planned to support waterbird-related recreational activities
    Watering planned to support angling activities
   Watering planned to support peaks in visitation (e.g. camping or other public activities on long weekends or school holidays)
  Program partners will continue to work with stakeholders to look for opportunities to achieve shared community benefits from water for the environment throughout the year.
1.3.6 How are risks managed?
Risk management is an integral part of managing water for the environment. Program partners consider risks continually during long-term and annual planning, implementation and review.
The VEWH, in collaboration with its program partners, has developed a risk management framework that addresses interagency risk, respects the risk management practices of each partner and documents roles and responsibilities in operating arrangements.
The seasonal watering proposals on which this seasonal watering plan is based identify potential risks associated with the specific watering actions proposed for the coming water year. A collaborative approach is the best way to manage the shared environmental watering risks; so, as part of developing the proposals, partners jointly assess risks and identify and commit to mitigation actions.
Table 1.3.1 shows the main shared risks of environmental watering. Program partners consider and reassess these and other potential risks as the season unfolds and planned watering actions are due to commence.
Some risks may only eventuate at the time of delivery. For example, forecast heavy rain that coincides with a planned environmental flow could increase the risk of nuisance flooding. Program partners review risks immediately before a planned environmental flow and implement measures to mitigate the risks as agreed with relevant program partners. Watering actions will not be implemented if unacceptable risks to the public or the environment cannot be mitigated.
    26 | Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21

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