Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Environmental Water Matters Forum 2017

189 views

Published on

A forum organised by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder to discuss: the benefits of water for the environment, the challenges of deciding when & where to deliver water for the environment, the outcomes of research into community attitudes towards water for the environment.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Environmental Water Matters Forum 2017

  1. 1. Wurundjeri camp (Source: aboriginalhistoryoftheyarra.com.au)Yarra River (Source: Melbourne Water)
  2. 2. VEWH update (before morning tea) Social research session (after lunch) ‘Top five objectives’ session (after morning tea)
  3. 3. Before the development of dams, weirs and channels After the development of dams, weirs and channels Increased water use Decreased river and wetland health
  4. 4. Government response to decline in river and wetland health: Government capped water entitlements (All water is now fully allocated) Government invested $$ to recover water for the environment Environmental watering = a public policy response because generally people care about healthy waterways.
  5. 5. • To ensure water for waterway health including in dry times (Millennium drought experience) • Independence, transparency, accountability, coordination  Enshrined in legislation  An entitlement holder like any other Why were water holders like VEWH set up? Drought-affected Wimmera River at Jeparit, 2009
  6. 6. What’s happened since February 2016? • Winter/spring 2016 was WET! • Some highlights • Govt emphasis on communities – through Water for Victoria • VEWH appointed Rueben Berg, a Gunditjmara man • Aboriginal water week • Research into community attitudes towards water for the environment • New VEWH website • Examples of community benefits (shared benefits) from water for the environment
  7. 7. What’s happened since February 2016? Winter/spring 2016 was WET! • 2016 was Victoria’s wettest year since 2011 • Wettest September on record What did VEWH do with water allocations? • In some cases, supplemented natural flows • In some cases, didn’t need to provide water as objectives were met naturally
  8. 8. Reedy Lake Some highlights Thomson River Bolin Bolin billabong Goulburn River Hattah Lakes Barmah Forest What’s happened since February 2016? Campaspe River Wimmera river
  9. 9. What’s happened since February 2016? Govt emphasis on communities Water for Victoria released in 2016 What has VEWH done in this space since the last Forum? Fourth Commissioner Aboriginal Water Week Social research …and some examples of community benefits from environmental flows New VEWH website
  10. 10. New VEWH website Feedback was sought from you in April 2016 with a face-to-face option and a webinar option Thanks to those who attended What’s happened since February 2016?
  11. 11. A big year for paddlers! Thomson River – Canoe club enjoyed the autumn flow in April 2017 Yarra River – Keen paddler Sean Marler enjoyed year round flows Glenelg River– George Turner and his family enjoyed the December 2016 summer flow Community benefits from water for the environment What’s happened since February 2016?
  12. 12. Case study: Glenelg River – March 2017 • Summer-autumn environmental flow for water quality and fish • The flow was also managed to meet objectives for local communities • Angler community objectives • Fantastic outcomes for native fish and the Dartmoor angling club • Aboriginal community objectives • Timing of flow for the Johnny Mullagh memorial cup • Cultural heritage values Community benefits from water for the environment
  13. 13. REFLECTIONS VIDEO What’s happened since February 2016? Community benefits from water for the environment
  14. 14. • To use water efficiently and effectively, we need to • Understand population processes • Aim for landscape-scale outcomes • Understand that connectivity is key • ‘Beyond local borders’ case studies • Native fish • Vegetation • Birds • Questions / comments / dialogue
  15. 15. This aim is the same for environmental water holders and managers as it is for producers / farmers “If we can’t water everything, how do we get the most bang for our buck?”
  16. 16. (how a population goes up or down over time), and (where these population processes occur)
  17. 17. (how a population goes up or down over time)
  18. 18. What influences emigration out of rivers? Murray cod Population What influences immigration to rivers? What influences spawning and births? For example, to understand what cod need, it is critical to understand Murray cod What influences survival and maturity? What influences deaths?
  19. 19. In rivers and wetlands, the flow regime is a key driver of these important population processes The way water flows through the landscape influences how a population goes up or down over time … Same for all biota!!
  20. 20. (where these population processes occur) ‘Patchiness’ and loss of connectivity can interrupt important population processes
  21. 21. Plant and animals populations need connectivity. ‘Fragmentation’ can lead to loss of connectivity. In our fragmented aquatic landscapes, we need to use the flow regime to make sure these patches are healthy, and to ensure connectivity between them.
  22. 22. Patchiness – environmental water perspective
  23. 23. Where in the landscape do these important lifecycle processes happen? We need to ask: ? ? ? ?
  24. 24. Remember…
  25. 25. ‘Flowing across borders’ Case study 1: Wooing native fish into Victorian rivers The aim: To use water to encourage fish to migrate across borders – from the Lower Darling River (NSW) into the Murray, Goulburn and Campaspe rivers (Vic)
  26. 26. Though it is important to manage water for the environment at a site level… It is also important to take into think about the larger implications at a landscape scale River flows are key to this Case study 1: Wooing native fish into Victorian rivers Patches
  27. 27. Flows were delivered to ‘patches’ to support the full life cycle of golden and silver perch in each area of river New research found that fish were operating at a larger scale….. • Large numbers of mature fish at the top of the system • Lots of small fish at the bottom • The role of these ‘patches’ was different Case study 1: Wooing native fish into Victorian rivers
  28. 28. Co-ordinated flows to promote dispersal from spawning ‘hotspots’ ‘Hotspots’ for recruitment Migration Case study 1: Wooing native fish into Victorian rivers Births So managing flows for the population at the scale of the lower connected basin, as well as at each river
  29. 29. Two environmental flows released in the Murray Operationally how was this achieved?
  30. 30. Two environmental flows released: - One in the Campaspe - One in the Goulburn Operationally how was this achieved?
  31. 31. SUCCESS! Operationally how was this achieved?
  32. 32. Case study 1: Wooing native fish into Victorian rivers Monitoring techniques
  33. 33. Case study 1: Wooing native fish into Victorian rivers Learnings • Lots of coordination required • Some native fish have life cycle characteristics that operate at scales that transverse local (state) borders • Fish need connection to important source populations
  34. 34. ‘Flowing across borders’ Case study 2 Ensuring survival of black box and red gum ‘patches’ The aim: To use water to ensure survival of flood-dependent forest vegetation (in this case, black box)
  35. 35. Remember…
  36. 36. Figure 1. A target tree at the watered site in 2014 (left) before environmental watering and in 2017 (right) two years after watering. Case study 2: Ensuring survival of black box and red gum ‘patches’
  37. 37. Number of Black Box seeds collected at watered vs unwatered sites (Hattah) Important for ‘births’ (i.e. seeding) Case study 2: Ensuring survival of black box and red gum ‘patches’
  38. 38. • Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo depends on tree hollows • Modified river regimes = less frequent flooding for black box and river red gum • Water for the environment is important to bring back some of this regime Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo Cacatua leadbeateri Case study 2: Ensuring survival of black box and red gum ‘patches’ Watering black box patches brings benefits to Major Mitchell!
  39. 39. Regent Parrot (eastern subspecies) Polytelis anthopeplus monarchoides • Regent parrot nests in old river red gums (hollows) along the Murray and Wimmera Rivers • Modified river regimes = reduced the number of river red gums with old hollows • Water for the environment is important to bring back some of this regime Case study 2: Ensuring survival of black box and red gum ‘patches’ Watering red gum ‘patches’ brings benefits to regent parrot!
  40. 40. Learnings • Vegetation has wider value than just at site-scale (vegetation has landscape scale benefits – especially for birds) • The biodiversity value of floodplain woody vegetation is large and supports iconic species • We need to maintain these patches of habitat or we risk losing key iconic species Case study 2: Ensuring survival of black box and red gum ‘patches’
  41. 41. • We manage water in an altered landscape • However, landscape-scale water management is important to attempt (despite barriers) to ensure species can breed, move, survive and feed (important population processes) • Our remaining habitat patches, and the rivers connecting them are critical • Animals and plants operate within an ecosystem that has no knowledge of our imposed ‘boundaries’
  42. 42. 1. What is prioritisation? 2. The context in which we prioritise 3. How VEWH currently prioritises across the state 4. What came out of last year’s forum session on this? 5. Proposed new approach to prioritisation • Roundtable session to help us with the new approach (1 hour) “What should our top five objectives be?”
  43. 43. Deciding how much water to use, where to use it and when to use it (as we’ve only got a limited amount)! ? ? ? ? “If we can’t water everything, how do we get the most bang for our buck?”
  44. 44. • Extent and significance of benefit expected from watering • Certainty of achieving environmental benefit • Ability to manage threats • Watering history of the site • The implications of not watering • The feasibility of watering • Cost effectiveness of the watering We consider the:
  45. 45. …within a single waterway Should we use water now, or save it for summer when water quality is a risk? …within a river basin Should we use water in those wetlands or that creek? …between river basins Should we trade this basin’s water to a different basin? …between years Should we keep water for next year, instead of using it this year? We make trade offs:
  46. 46. There’s no magic formula • Dynamic context • We are still developing our knowledge • It is difficult to compare environmental ‘values’ • There are a number of communities and opinions! • We need to make ‘value judgements’ • The decisions we make are interconnected with other issues
  47. 47. Current approach • Focus on local scale objectives • Focus on many different objectives • Focus on sites with modified water regime and some ecological values • Focus on 1-2 year outlook
  48. 48. • We don’t have enough water to satisfy every objective, especially in times of water scarcity • Large numbers of objectives creates confusion and potentially leads to subjective decisions about which objectives are most important • The science is telling us that ecosystems operate at a landscape scale. • We need more definitive long term water planning
  49. 49. • Prioritise sites for watering based on the merit of each site • Prioritise watering based on landscape-scale outcomes (rather than just site-based) • Incorporate drought and climate change considerations into decision-making • Use already available tools to assist decision-making • Consider impacts of decisions on communities and communicate those decisions Key suggestions from last year’s roundtable:
  50. 50. Current approach Proposed approach • Focus on local scale objectives • Focus on many different objectives • Focus on sites with modified water regime and some ecological values • Focus on 1-2 year outlook • Focus on regional scale objectives • Focus on a few top priority objectives • Focus on sites that best meet regional objectives • Focus on 3-5 year outlook
  51. 51. Lots of different objectives at local scales
  52. 52. • Focus on regional scale objectives • Focus on a few top priority objectives • Focus on sites that meet top objectives • Focus on 3-5 year outlook
  53. 53. For Objective A (e.g. golden perch) , focus on certain refuges at the regional scale to meet that objective
  54. 54. For Objective A (e.g. golden perch) , focus on certain boom habitats at the regional scale to meet that objective
  55. 55. For Objective B (e.g. red gum), focus on refuges at the regional scale to meet that objective
  56. 56. For Objective B (e.g. red gum), focus on boom habitats at the regional scale to meet that objective
  57. 57. For Objective C (e.g. colonial nesting waterbirds), focus on refuge habitats at the regional scale to meet that objective
  58. 58. For Objective C (e.g. colonial nesting waterbirds), focus on boom habitats at the regional scale to meet that objective
  59. 59. Combined refuge habitats for objectives A, B and C
  60. 60. Combined boom habitats for objectives A, B and C
  61. 61. We want to ask you in a roundtable today: • What you think the top 5 objectives should be in each region • What you think a successful outcome would look like for those objectives
  62. 62. Potential objectives for northern Vic 1. River red gum forests and woodlands 2. Black box forests and woodlands 3. Non-woody plant communities (sedges, herbs, forbes) 4. Colonial nesting waterbirds 5. Migratory shorebirds 6. Other waterbirds (ducks, rails, coots) 7. Golden perch and silver perch 8. Murray cod 9. Short-lived fish 10. Long-lived fish 11. Ecosystem function
  63. 63. Potential objectives for southern Vic 1. Australian grayling 2. Diadromous fish (migrate from rivers to seas) 3. Non-migratory long-lived species 4. Non migratory short-lived species 5. Non-woody plant communities (sedges, herbs, forbes) 6. Reduce nuisance vegetation 7. Riparian trees and shrubs 8. Platypus 9. Water quality 10. Manage salt wedge and flushing in estuaries 11. Macroinvertebrates
  64. 64. 1. Maintain extent and improve condition of red gum forests and woodlands
  65. 65. 2. Maintain extent and improve condition of black box forests and woodlands
  66. 66. 3. Maintain extent and improve condition of non- woody plant communities (e.g. sedges, herbs, forbes)
  67. 67. 4. Maintain current species diversity and increase abundance of colonial nesting waterbirds (e.g. ibis, spoonbills, egrets)
  68. 68. 5. Maintain current species diversity of migratory shorebirds (e.g. sharp-tailed sandpipers, Latham’s snipe)
  69. 69. 6. Maintain current species diversity and increase abundance of other waterbirds (e.g. Australasian bittern, ducks, rails, coots)
  70. 70. 7. Extend distribution and increase abundance of golden perch and silver perch
  71. 71. 8. Extend distribution and increase abundance of Murray cod
  72. 72. 9. Maintain current species diversity, extend distribution and increase abundance of short-lived species (e.g. gudgeons, hardyheads)
  73. 73. 10. Maintain current species diversity, extend distribution and increase abundance of other long-lived native fish (e.g. freshwater catfish, Macquarie perch)
  74. 74. 11. Increase ecosystem function and productivity by increasing extent and frequency of flow connections between river and floodplain
  75. 75. 1. Extend distribution and increase abundance of Australian grayling
  76. 76. 2. Maintain current species diversity, extend distribution and increase abundance of diadromous fish i.e. fish that spend part of their life in rivers and others in the sea or estuaries (e.g. tupong, common galaxids)
  77. 77. 3. Maintain current species diversity, extend distribution and increase abundance of non- migratory long-lived species (e.g. river blackfish)
  78. 78. 4. Maintain current species diversity, extend distribution and increase abundance of non- migratory short-lived species (e.g. pygmy perch, mountain galaxias)
  79. 79. 5. Maintain extent and improve condition of non- woody plant communities (e.g. sedges, herbs and forbes)
  80. 80. 6. Reduce encroachment of nuisance vegetation into river channels and wetlands
  81. 81. 7. Maintain extent and improve condition of riparian trees and shrubs
  82. 82. 8. Extend distribution and increase abundance of platypus
  83. 83. 9. Maintain water quality (e.g. adequate dissolved oxygen concentration and low salinity) in freshwater rivers during low flow conditions
  84. 84. 10. Manage salt wedge and flushing in river estuaries
  85. 85. 11. Increase diversity of macroinvertebrates and overall abundance of macroinvertebrates
  86. 86. Why are we having a roundtable? • The VEWH will select priority objectives for each region with water managers and scientists • The feedback we get today will inform that selection • We will articulate why they are included or excluded from final lists
  87. 87. Does anyone here speak ‘water-ish’?
  88. 88. What we promised to do after last year’s forum
  89. 89. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 TOTAL n = 96 Fieldwork completed 21 February – 15 March 2017 Qualitative research methodology Shepparton (n=11) 1 focus group 2 in-depth interviews Mildura (n=27) 1 focus group 2 mini groups 5 in-depth interviews Sale (n=11) 1 focus group 2 in-depth interviews Melbourne (n=19) 2 focus groups 2 mini groups 3 in-depth interviews Horsham (n=11) 1 focus group 2in-depth interviews 5 interviews with interest groups: • Educator • Hunter • Angler • Birdwatcher • Councillor 5
  90. 90. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 7 Online survey Victorians aged 18 and over (n=1,218) CATI survey Victorians aged 40 and over in regional areas (n=201) CAPI survey* Victorians aged 18 years and over (n=75), including: - Traditional Owners, n=25 - Elders, n=19 Fieldwork dates: 7-30 April 2017 Quantitative research methodology
  91. 91. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Awareness and understanding 8
  92. 92. Quick quiz: What percentage of Victorians, statewide, know that our major waterways have been modified for human use? AA: 30% AC: 16 % AB: 46.5% A D: 78 %
  93. 93. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 There is limited awareness and understanding of how water is used across Victoria and the impact that this has on Victorian waterways Water uses (unprompted) Perceptions of water distribution Impact of water use on waterways were fully aware that Victoria’s waterways have been modified for human use were fully aware that up to half of water is removed each year for human use were fully aware that Victoria’s waterways cannot function as they would naturally and need to be actively managed Base: All Victorians (n=1,143-1,419) 16% 18% 21% 4# environment 2# industry 3# farming / irrigation 1# urban consumption 5% mentioned environment related uses Non-metro (30%) Non-metro (30%) Non-metro (36%) Aged 65+ (27%) Aged 55+ (28%) Aged 55+ (32%) Males (21%) Males (24%) Males (26%) Significantly higher / lower results compared to other remoteness, age or gender classifications Contextual understanding of waterways
  94. 94. What is environmental water? A: Water released back into waterways to help plants & critters survive, feed and breed. B: All the water we see in a river C: Water that isn’t from the desal plant C: A bottled spring water brand Should have phoned a friend! (Preferably over 65 yrs. old in an ‘outer regional’ area!!)
  95. 95. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Awareness of environmental water and its benefits was limited – particularly among metropolitan respondents. Overall, only around one in six respondents reported that they had both heard of the term ‘environmental water’ and knew about water being set aside for the environment. Awareness of environmental water Awareness of the benefits of environmental water Base: All Victorians (n=1,419) were fully aware that it increases opportunities for recreational activities were fully aware that it sustains healthy Country for Indigenous communities were fully aware that it improves water quality, which has economic benefits for farmers 23% 18% 23% Reported that they had heard of the term ‘environmental water’ 24% 17% reported that they knew that water is set aside for the environment and released back into waterways 42% reported knowing both: that water is set aside and released back and the term ‘environmental water’ Increased with age (7-9% 18-44 years; 17% 45- 54 years; 23% 55-64 years; 32% 65+ years) Males (26%) Aged 55+ (31%) Non-metro (38%) Males (21%) Aged 55+ (23%) Non-metro (26%) Males (29%) Aged 55+ (32%) Non-metro (32%) Increased by remoteness (11% Metro; 32% inner regional; 44% outer-regional / remote) Significantly higher / lower results compared to other remoteness, age or gender classifications Environmental water
  96. 96. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Attitudes and perceptions 1 2
  97. 97. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Once informed about environmental water, participants tended to have more positive perceptions than negative (80% perceived benefits vs 49% who perceived disadvantages). The qualitative research found that for those who were negative, good water management was key. 1 3 +• Improving local environments – including plants, animals, scenery and flows • Preventing extinction and irreversible damage / keeping animals, plants, fish and birds alive • Future-proofing Victoria’s waterways for generations to come • Providing better / healthier waterways for people to use (i.e. for recreation) – both immediate and longer term • Ensuring there is water available when it’s needed (e.g. for droughts/ black water events etc.) • Reducing water availability for other uses (e.g. farmers, food production, household consumption) • Not required – “the environment can look after itself” • High cost to taxpayer / rates payer / irrigators • Poor management of environmental water: o Perceived poor timing of releases (i.e. when already wet, when too dry or in tourism season) o Makes some environmental issues worse (e.g. black water and carp) o Decisions perceived to be Melbourne centred and not a consultative process o Number of agencies involved increased perceptions of bureaucracy and lack of transparency o Selling allocation inflated the price of water in the market + selling water out of region and / or indicated that VEWH had too much to start with o Poor communication = lost opportunities for recreational users who could benefit immediately from flows (e.g. kayakers, birdwatchers, fishers) – Perceptions of environmental water
  98. 98. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 The research found that an understanding of waterway management issues was an important foundation for understanding environmental water and its management. 25% of all surveyed had heard information about environmental water over the past 12 months. Sources of awareness included: radio, TV and newspaper media (17%), seeing changes to waterways and word-of-mouth (7%), local water corporation newsletters (7%). However overall, most felt there was not enough information provided in relation to environmental water. 9 Awareness and understanding
  99. 99. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Acceptance of environmental water
  100. 100. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Language and messaging 1 7
  101. 101. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 1 8 Terminology
  102. 102. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Language
  103. 103. “Something released in winter something (is that a jail? Who is Thomson and what’s he entitled to?), erm, got really high on the shoulders of a disease and …what? Is that the Twilight Zone? What’s reach 4?..... Give up.” Water-ish
  104. 104. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Key information needs
  105. 105. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 • Key message – specific audiences• 3157 – VEWH Communications research 2 6 Key messages – specific audiences
  106. 106. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Insights • 3157 – VEWH Communications research 2 8
  107. 107. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017
  108. 108. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017
  109. 109. Commercial-in-confidence 4/12/2017 Preferred information sources

×