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Community Comment Sought for Groundbreaking Draft Upper Ovens Water Management Plan

Tuesday 22 March, 2011

The Upper Ovens River Water Supply Protection Area (WSPA) Consultative Committee is seeking community comment on its ground breaking Water Management Plan (WMP). The draft plan proposes management arrangements for groundwater and surface water licences in the Upper Ovens River WSPA and is the first to incorporate both types of water resources in the same plan.

Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) Acting Managing Director Shane McGrath said addressing both water sources in the same plan was a logical step because groundwater resources in the shallow alluvial aquifer are highly connected to surface water in the Upper Ovens River valley.

"In this system, use from either source impacts on all ground and surface water users, so the draft plan proposes the same rules for groundwater users as well as the users extracting surface water from the Ovens River and tributaries. The draft arrangements provide greater certainty about water access and sharing for all users," said Mr McGrath.

The draft management plan aims to strike a balance between the competing needs for water in the area, and to ensure that the environmental, social and economic benefits, which the water resources provide are not only maintained, but enhanced.

"The draft management plan is an important initiative for water management in the Upper Ovens and is the result of commitment and leadership by the Committee," Mr McGrath said.

The Chair of the Upper Ovens WSPA Consultative Committee Mr Alan Barlee explained a review of the Upper Ovens WMP is required 5 years after its implementation and this would provide an opportunity to incorporate any developments arising from the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

"The proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan is likely to consider management at a much broader level than the draft Upper Ovens WMP, which is focused on the resources of a relatively small sub-catchment. Timeframes for implementation of the proposed Basin Plan are uncertain, and are likely to be after the Upper Ovens WMP is due to be finalised," said Mr Barlee.

"I am confident that the Upper Ovens WMP will benefit the whole community by enabling what is accepted as being a single water resource to be more equitably shared and sustainably managed, especially during low flow periods," said Mr Barlee.

The Draft Upper Ovens WMP is available from the G-MW website www.g-mwater.com.au and hard copies will be sent to licence holders in the coming weeks. The Committee is seeking community feedback by 6 May 2011, and will hold information session during April. Any further enquiries can be directed to Matt Pethybridge on (03) 5833 5702.

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