Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) has renewed licenses for Upper Ovens River Water Supply Protection Area (WSPA) customers as part of a broader plan to protect groundwater and surface water resources in the area.
In a proactive response to customer enquiries on the matter, GMW held two webinars in June for Upper Ovens customers. These enabled discussion of how the renewal process and licensing requirements reflect the Upper Ovens River WSPA Water Management Plan.
Through these webinars and online engagement via yoursay.gmwater.com.au GMW has listened and heard the views of many customers. In response to this feedback, customers have been offered a 12 month extension on payment of their Licence Renewal Fees.
“In recognition that this has been a difficult year, we are also offering customers who have already paid, a full refund of the renewal fee paid to ease any short term financial pressure. The full renewal fee will then become payable by 30 June 2021,” GMW General Manager of Water Delivery Services Warren Blyth said.
“We will be proactively engaging and communicating with customers over coming months to provide additional information about the services the licence renewal fees fund and why the combined nature of the Upper Ovens area’s surface and groundwater resources requires more intensive management than other water supply areas. “The five-yearly renewal period was agreed to as part of the Statutory Water Management Plan”
As a not-for-profit authority, GMW’s fees are set to only recover the charges and costs incurred by the business. “These fees are regularly reviewed in line with our overarching vision to create a fairer deal for all customers,” Mr Blyth said.
“However, we also intend to review our licence renewal process, to identify any other possible improvements and efficiencies. We are committed to working with customers to resolve these challenges wherever possible.”
For more information, customers can phone GMW’s Diversions Manager, Peter Clydesdale on 0457 733 445.
The Upper Ovens River Water Supply Protection Area (WSPA) Water Management Plan is a statutory plan approved by the Minister for Water in 2012. Extensive planning and deep community engagement took place more than eight years ago to develop the plan and a more rigorous approach to licensing in the area.
The objective of the Plan is to ensure groundwater and surface water resources in the area are managed equitably including long-term sustainability.
Licence renewal is an important part of protecting the environment. As part of a renewal assessment any impacts that extraction are having on the environment and water resources is taken into account to ensure that no licence is having a long term impact on surrounding users and the environment. The renewal process treats all licence holders equally and holds every licence to account. Within the Upper Ovens this is particularly important due to high value environmental features within the catchment which the plan aims to protect.
A five-year licence tenure was one feature of the plan supported by a consultative committee drawing more than 50 per cent of its members from the local community.
Regular and well attended public meetings were also held with broad support for the plan including the five-year renewal period.
The plan is also supported by the Water Minster Lisa Neville and included extensive input from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).