River group supports state funding

May 20, 2022 BY

Increasing inflow: Cameron Steele, coordinator of People for a Living Moorabool, said the Moorabool is in desperate need of support. Photo: TIM BOTTAMS

MOORABOOL River advocacy group People for a Living Moorabool have responded to a funding announcement in the 2022/23 State budget that will go towards supporting the waterway.

PALM’s coordinator Cameron Steele said the backing is “heartening” and will allow pressure to be lifted from the Moorabool, currently regarded as Victoria’s most flow-stressed river.

“It’s certainly not all the answers we need for the river, but hopefully that will come when Geelong and Ballarat go towards a manufactured water source,” he said.

“Whether that means a recyclable alternative or desalination, it will allow pressure to come off the Moorabool, so we hope this is a good first step to recovering the river.

“There’s no doubt it’s currently dying. The water assessment report showed a 20 per cent less inflow over 15 years. Fish are depopulating in some parts, and vegetation’s still encroaching onto it because of the lack of flow.”

The Moorabool River is just one of the waterways that will be supported as part of $30 million allocated for the draft Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy, which aims to support rivers and catchments across the State.

A further $26.6 million is pencilled in for the strategy next financial year, and Mr Steele said the group has been involved in the document’s drafting for about three years.

“Of course, we’ve been asking for more environmental flows, and there’s an indication that our requests will make its way into the document,” he said.

“We’re hoping once the draft goes through that it’ll help claw back some of the Moorabool’s water that’s been taken out of it with an upgrade to the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline.

“We’ll be very critical if we think it’s fallen short.”

Mr Steele said the Moorabool has been “dammed to death” along the northern regions and that 400,000 megalitres would be required to properly fill the river to accommodate for the region’s growing population.

“What it really needs is more water, and it needs that water left in it. You turn a tap on, and a lot of that water comes from rivers like this so we need to make sure we can continue to provide for it,” he said.