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The Victorian Government has announced a Consultative Committee to ensure communities play a key role in the proposed Victorian Constraints Measures Program.

The Program aims to improve the health of floodplains along the Murray and Goulburn rivers as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The committee, to be chaired by Patrick McNamara, will include members from environment, farming and Traditional Owner groups, who will oversee the development of a study exploring benefits and risks of the program.

Across the Murray-Darling Basin, dam and weir construction has reduced natural flooding events resulting in river channels becoming disconnected from the floodplain. 

While ecological benefits of reinstating environmental water to lower floodplains and wetland habitats could be significant, there are concerns about the impacts to public and private assets such as roads, bridges, fences, pumps and private land. 

The Committee will examine the feasibility of allowing higher environmental water flows in the Goulburn River from Lake Eildon to the River Murray, and in the River Murray downstream of Lake Hume.  

This work is expected to be completed by December 2022 and funded by the Australian Government as part of the Basin Plan. Constraints programs are also underway in New South Wales and South Australia.  

Victoria Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said, “Victoria’s position has always been that we won’t flood private land without consent, or compulsorily acquire land or easements – and that position won’t be changing.

“We’ve said that any constraints measures need comprehensive and detailed community input – and this will take time.

“Before any measures are put in place communities need to be appropriately engaged, cost and benefits clear and any risks to communities or river health managed.”

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