The Victorian Government should return to buying up water for environmental purposes, according to a new report released by Environment Victoria last week.
The organisation wants to see buybacks from water holders, including irrigators, used as a principal means of water recovery, rather than through infrastructure and water efficiency measures.
‘‘The most cost-effective and efficient method of recovering water is to buy it back from willing sellers,’’ the report has found.
The report, Six Steps to Water Leadership: A pathway to healthy rivers and sustainable water use, outlines how the government should restore Victoria’s rivers and wetlands, create water-smart cities and towns and ensure water resources are managed sustainably in a drier future due to climate change.
Environment Victoria campaigns director Nick Roberts said Victoria’s rivers were in crisis, with just 23 per cent in good condition.
‘‘Victoria needs a new approach to managing our precious water resources,’’ he said.
‘‘For years, the environmental importance of rivers has been sidelined while priority has been given to costly water infrastructure projects with uncertain outcomes.
‘‘This hard hat approach to water and rivers has failed to stem the ongoing decline of our rivers and wetlands.
‘‘‘‘The challenge is now to put the environmental focus back into water. This will mean taking less water from rivers for big water users, and helping our cities and towns to capture stormwater and reuse waste water.’’
The report cast doubt on some engineering methods of water recovery.
It urges the government to reduce the reliance on untested supply measures and environmental engineering to achieve environmental outcomes.