November 2010

Coalition in the hot seat

29.11.2010 - Posted by Kane Travis
The Victorian State election was held on Saturday and the electorate sent a significant message that they are not happy with the current Labor government. With a 6 per cent drop in Labor primary vote it is now down to postal votes and the ABC election computer is predicting the Coalition will form government. With a change imminent it is time to have another look at the views and commitment to the natural environment in Victoria by the Coalition government

Let’s start with the most disappointing, which is the reintroduction of ‘strategic’ cattle grazing into Victoria’s high country. That issue has been a long battle over many years and unfortunately likely to be unwound with one sweep of the policy wand.
The coalition will also retain Victoria’s ten catchment management authorities (CMAs) and three coastal boards. This policy is aligned with the notion of ensuring local input and representation in decision making about our catchments. I have no firm view if this is good or bad, but unfortunately it means that the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of hours that have been invested by our CMA and DSE staff who have been planning the mergers over the past year, have been a wasted effort.

Moving into more positive territory, the coalition will increase Landcare funding by $12 million to help fund 60 Landcare co-ordinators across Victoria, and help fill the hole left by a reduction of investment by the federal government. The Coalition will also allocate another $10 million to the Gippsland Lakes for continuing support of the Gippsland Lakes Rescue Package.

Finally there is the unexpected decision to commit $6 million to the City of Kingston to dredge, clean up and begin maintaining the Mordialloc Creek. This funding is intended to be the first step to restoring the Mordialloc Creek and making it ‘one of the jewels of the bay again’.

Most unfortunately of all is that this really is the end of the list. It's disappointing that there is no real strategic vision for the protection and enhancement of our natural environment and a pledge of around $30M is a very small amount of the $7.6 billion over four years outlined by the Coalition. You can read all the Coalition polices in detail at http://www.liberalvictoria.org.au/guest/policies.aspx

National stormwater conference

18.11.2010 - Posted by Dom Blackham
Rob Catchlove recently attended the National Stormwater Conference in Sydney. Here's his summary of the highlights of the event.

The recent National Stormwater Conference in Sydney was the first nation-wide conference - the state industry associations have traditionally held their own conferences.

The conference was dominated by a few issues: the emphasis on stormwater quantity versus stormwater quality, the implementation of water sensitive urban design, discussion on water sensitive cities and the harvesting of stormwater. It is an interesting time in stormwater management as the industry debates where the priorities should be: quantity (with more support through stormwater harvesting) or quality. There is a strong sense that stormwater is on the verge of being part of the broader water supply system and city-wide strategy, yet the implementation of WSUD is still a struggle and far from being mainstreamed.

I presented a paper entitled ‘Raingardens or rainwater tanks - community’s willingness to install and effectiveness in achieving regional change.’ The paper found that while the community doesn’t identify with and is not really committed to stormwater quality improvements, their response to drought and demand management strategies has resulted in a huge increase in rainwater tanks and hence a huge volume of stormwater being disconnected. So the result for stormwater is a good one, but people do it for different reasons. This could be capitalised on into the future.

South Australia won 3 out of 4 awards at the conference, recognising that Adelaide is quite advanced in their approach to stormwater issues.

Native Fish - for love not money!

1.11.2010 - Posted by Kane Travis
Townsville Natural Resources Manager, Jason Carter recently had a book published (co-authored with fish ecologist Jim Tait) by north Queensland regional natural resources management organization NQ Dry Tropics. The book is aimed at the general public and describes the range of freshwater fish species to be found in the NY Dry Tropics region (principally the Burdekin River system). It took nearly three years to collect the specimens, take photographs, prepare drawings and get it all finalized; a task done for love not money, as all the photographs, illustrations and time to write the text was provided at no cost, because the authors love the subject so much!

There are 53 locally occurring native species of freshwater fish in the NQ Dry Tropics region,  although marine species are recorded frequently enough in freshwater habitats to be considered part of the region’s freshwater fish community. Species include Barramundi, Jungle Perch and Rainbow Fish.

Copies of the book “Freshwater Fishes of the Burdekin Dry Tropics Region” can be obtained through NQ Dry Tropics at: http://www.burdekindrytropics.org.au/


Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

1.11.2010 - Posted by Kane Travis
I was recently in Canberra talking to staff who work for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and discovered that as of the 30th of September this year 211 gigalitres (211 billion litres) of environmental water has been delivered to the environment so far under the Water for the Future initiative. This is quite a remarkable achievement and the water has been used to now water 29 river, floodplain and wetlands sites in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
As more and more water is allocated to the environment the job of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder gets increasingly difficult to determine the most efficient and effective way to provide water to key assets.
There are some very good documents on the DSEWPC website that give an overview of framework that the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder works under and importantly their 2010-2011 Business Plan.