Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Victorian Govt is giving the Yarra a drink - after a long wait and a big thirst

Yarra Riverkeepers
Working together to protect and enjoy the Yarra
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MEDIA RELEASE
Announcement ends long wait for the Yarra
Sunday’s (24/10/10) announcement by the State Government to return environmental water to the Yarra River has been welcomed by the Yarra Riverkeeper Association.
Yarra Riverkeeper and association spokesperson, Ian Penrose, said “Following announcements earlier this year to return some water, the Government has at long last honoured its promise, made four years ago, to provide the Yarra with needed environmental flows.”
In 2005 a government-sponsored scientific study found that the health of the Yarra and the plants and animals it supports were suffering from poor river flows because Melbourne sources most of its water from the Yarra catchment.  The study showed, firstly, that the river was receiving 60% of the natural run-off (the rest taken for water supply) and secondly, that the altered pattern of flows was damaging the river’s health. 
To tackle the unhealthy flow pattern, the study recommended minimum passing flows plus an environment entitlement (of 17 billion litres per year) for release to simulate, for example a “fresh” in a dry summer.  The scientists stated that these were minimum requirements for a healthy river. 
Prior to the 2006 state election the Government announced with much fanfare that the Yarra would get these environmental flows.  
But a year later it deferred them and lowered the minimum flows by another 20 billion litres per year resulting in a total loss of 37 billion litres annually to the ailing Yarra.
Mr Penrose said, “The Yarra Riverkeeper Association objected strongly to these decisions and the threat they posed to the river’s health, and has campaigned vigorously ever since for the promised and needed environmental flows”.
“Today’s announcement is unquestionably good news”, Mr Penrose explained, “but they amount to only a few percent of the river’s natural flow, and the amount of water being taken from the Yarra is still of grave concern.  In each of the last three years, 2007-9, excessive water extraction has left the river with only 30% of the natural run-off – the lowest on record – and only half the 60% share used as a basis for the 2005 study.”  Refer to graph below.
“Our Yarra has shrunk drastically.  It has been hit doubly hard; by the dry decade and by the disproportionate amount of water extracted from it.”
Melbourne must reduce its over-exploitation of the Yarra and aim to source most of its water supply from recycling and capturing urban stormwater.  In that way, the Yarra can retain 60% of its natural run-off.  Anything less is inconsistent with the true meaning of living sustainably.”
For enquiries, 
please contact us on 0409 510 766, 
info@yarrariver.org.au


BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON
THE YARRA RIVERKEEPER ASSOCIATION
Who We Are
We are a not-for-profit community organisation formed in 2004 by a group of citizens who love the Yarra River, and care for its future. Our aim is to protect and restore the Yarra River and its tributaries, from source to mouth, for current and future generations. We are a member of the growing and successful international Waterkeeper movement of community groups around the world caring for their local waterways.
What We Do
We tell the river’s “story”, highlighting its wonders and its challenges. We monitor its health and activities affecting it. We run educational events, river tours and give informative presentations to schools, community groups, the authorities and businesses. We work closely with numerous government bodies and NGO’s and advocate directly and through the news media for river care.
What We’ve Achieved
Established the first regular boat patrol of the Yarra
Instrumental in the state government’s decisions to cap the amount of water extracted from the river and provide it with environmental flows
Provided on-water inspection tours to over 200 community and business leaders and politicians
Delivered over 300 presentations and lectures
Spoken up for the Yarra in over 200 TV, radio and print media articles
Earned the reputation of being the pre-eminent voice of the Yarra River
Our Riverkeeper Ian Penrose won the City of Melbourne’s “2010 Melbourne Award” for contribution to the environment.

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