The Concerned Waterways Alliance attended two meetings in May with Lach Gordon representing Friends of the Barwon
Barwon Water (BW) ESC draft decision
Barwon Water received only very minor reductions of funding for some programs. There was a reduction of $2 million for the upgrade of the Melbourne Geelong pipeline, but Barwon Water were generally satisfied with the ESC determination and should be able to cover any shortfalls. It seems that their submission was highly regarded and their reputation as the premier Victorian Water Corporation has served them well.
Southern Rural Water (SRW) ESC draft decision
SRW has authority over three irrigation districts, Bacchus Marsh, Werribee and McAllister, as well as seven major storages.
SRW licenses groundwater, surface water, and dams. SRW has a budget of $33 million of which $25 million is derived from customers.
In recent years there has been a separateand substantial funding program to upgrade and modernise these irrigation districts including converting flood to pivot irrigation and provision of automated outlets.
Unfortunately, these water savings have not always been directed to improve environmental flows.
The ESC budget reduced SRWs operating budget by $6.6 million per annum.
CWA argued that the ASIC determination was incorrect because SRW has insufficient monitoring and enforcement capacity (such as for the licensing of private dams) and SRW needs more funding, not less to improve performance in these areas.
Final SRW ESC decision
The ESC approved an increase of $9.9 million or 5.8% higher than their draft decision!
The ESC stated that the decision “is adequate for the business to deliver the outcomes SRW has determined are those valued by customers and the community, and it’s legal and regulatory obligations, including for environmental water and sustainability.”
This was a great result both SRW and CWA (and FOTB), and confirms that our advocacy is effective.
A lack of funds should not be an excuse for insufficient monitoring and compliance by SRW.
By Lach Gordon
Image of the Barwon river near the Moorabool river confluence