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Andrews Labor government announces 'Water is Life' to allow traditional owners to access and manage water
A new Victorian government policy announced on Wednesday, 28 September aims to facilitate Traditional Owners to access and manage water for spiritual, cultural and environmental purposes.
Southern Rural Water Managing Director, Cameron FitzGerald, said the Water is Life: Traditional Owner Access to Water Roadmap promises to respect cultural values, continue to enhance environmental outcomes and support a thriving agriculture sector. Minister for Water, the Hon. Harriet Shing MP, launched the policy at the UNESCO World Heritage listed Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in south-west Victoria.
Water is Life launched at the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape: Southern Rural Water team (LtR) Gemma Abela, Cameron FitzGerald, Bryce Morden, Michelle McCrum and Kev Williams
Supporting traditional owners
Significantly, Southern Rural Water first released 2,500 megalitres of water entitlement to the Palawarra (Fitzroy River) - which flows into Budj Bim - as an allocation to the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation in March this year.
"This supports local Traditional Owner aspirations to return water flows to the landscape and re-establish traditional methods of eel harvesting in the Budj Bim cultural landscape."
"Under the traditional system, channels, weirs and dams were used to trap, store and harvest kooyang (short-finned eel) for over 6,000 years - making it the oldest aquacultural system in the world." Mr FitzGerald said.
Ensuring water balance
The Water is Life Aboriginal water access roadmap will not affect irrigators' water entitlements or allocations, nor require additional fees or charges.
Aligned to this new framework, Southern Rural Water's cultural license policy aims to ensure the use of water is balanced by the need for sustainable and equitable sharing of the resource.
"Southern Rural Water is proud to act as a resource steward on behalf of the government and in great partnership with other water agencies, our customers, communities and Traditional Owner groups," Mr FitzGerald added. For more information visit the following link to read the new Water is Life policy.
Pictures from Southern Rural Water website.
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