The Victorian Coalition Government has today unveiled a new vision for Melbourne’s water future.
Releasing the final report from the Living Victoria Ministerial Advisory Council, Water Minister Peter Walsh said the Coalition Government supported the vision, objectives and broad directions the council had set out in the plan.
“The Victorian Coalition Government committed before the election to change the way we plan for Melbourne’s future water needs,” Mr Walsh said.
“We now have a substantial reform process ahead of us to overhaul the urban water system and place a greater focus on local solutions instead of costly, large-scale infrastructure such as desalination.
“These reforms will drive generational change in the way Melbourne uses rainwater, stormwater and recycled water and provide Victoria’s next major water augmentation.
“Fit-for-purpose solutions to re-use stormwater and recycled water will reduce the pressure on our potable water supply by providing water for non-drinking purposes,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Office for Living Victoria will be established as a cross-government agency to cut red tape and drive the integration of water and urban planning.
“In the first 12 months, OLV will focus on integrated water planning, including the development of integrated water cycle plans for inner Melbourne and the city’s four main growth areas.
“It will also prepare a regulatory impact statement for building controls to improve the water performance of new buildings and amend the Victorian Planning Provisions to improve stormwater management.”
Mr Walsh said the vision and objectives of Living Victoria would be used to align Melbourne’s future development with Living Victoria.
The Coalition Government will also:
• seek ways to give water customers greater control over their water bills by providing more tariff choices;
• develop investment guidelines to better reflect the value that the community places on urban amenity and the environment;
• work with local government and the water authorities on approaches to extend Melbourne Water’s stormwater licensing arrangements to cover all government-owned stormwater infrastructure;
• release sewer mining guidelines to increase investment in wastewater re-use; and
• cut red tape to increase the use of alternative water sources and reduce pressure on catchment and desalinated water.
Mr Walsh said communities had suffered from Labor’s failure to undertake the long-term planning required for population growth and climate change.
“The decade-long drought left many urban parks, gardens and sports fields as dustbowls,” Mr Walsh said.
“Although we have moved out of a period of drought, the Coalition Government is determined to protect the amenity of open spaces for the enjoyment of our local communities.”
Mr Walsh said the report included a number of longer-term recommendations designed to increase competition within the water sector.
“Given the essential nature of water services, we believe these recommendations require further work and community consultation,” Mr Walsh said.
“We support a more competitive environment where it is in the best interests of the community, however we are committed to keeping water in public ownership.”
Mr Walsh thanked Mike Waller, chair of the Living Victoria Ministerial Advisory Council, and members Rob Skinner, Sue Holliday and Rob Adams for their hard work and commitment to a better water future for Melbourne.
The Living Melbourne, Living Victoria Implementation Plan is available at www.water.vic.gov.au/livingvictoria
Monday, April 23, 2012
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