The state government has moved to give landholders clarity around the management of drainage systems, cutting red tape and helping to reduce financial loss from water-logged paddocks and other drainage issues.
Water Minister Lisa Neville has released a new rural drainage strategy and announced a range of pilot studies to address rural drainage issues.
“Landholders told us that rural drainage was a problem – this strategy gives them certainty and sets out clear criteria to how to manage drainage at the local level,” Ms Neville said.
“Now governments – both state and local – can work together to cut red tape and help reduce financial stress associated with rural drainage problems across Victoria.”
The rural drainage strategy was the product of extensive consultation and aimed to balance support of agricultural productivity, with protection of the environment and cultural assets.
The strategy clearly defined roles and responsibilities for the first time, helping landholders better manage dryland rural drainage or excess water on their land, and properly restore areas no longer requiring drainage.
Ms Neville said most importantly, the strategy recognised the ongoing management of rural drainage was a decision that must be made locally and driven by the landholders.
To do this, landholders would get information they needed, with guidance on costs, benefits and simplified approvals to help them developing drainage management plans.
Local councils will be the first point of contact and the Catchment Management Authority will assist with approvals and other arrangements through the process.
The government was also providing $4.9 million to roll out 11 pilot studies to address difficult regional rural drainage issues.
The projects included over $1 million for Woady Yaloak and Lough Calvert in the Corangamite region, $140,000 for the Moe River flats and $344,000 for Budj Bim.