Our position on 5 river issues

(i) Riverside development and planning

Our vision: The Yarra River and its environs are a continuous corridor of public green space and unbroken wildlife habitat along the entire length of the river.

We believe that:

  • All planning decisions in the corridor should be overseen by a single authority which has a whole-of-river perspective (beyond local council boundaries), consistent with the fact that the river’s values and ecology relate to and are dependent on its entirety.
  • The Yarra River and its environs are critical “natural infrastructure” for the city to function and be liveable; no less vital than public transport, hospitals and schools.
  • To stop further encroachment (immediate action), planning controls need to be introduced
    • to ban the erection of additional buildings and structures on riverside land,
    • to ensure that any new/replacement building/structure is no taller, bigger or closer to the river than what exists on the site, and
    • to ensure other riverside works are compatible with the sought-after green river-scape.
  • To restore the corridor (long term action), measures need to be introduced
    • to reclaim public ownership of land abutting the river, and
    • to replace, when possible, riverbank buildings with indigenous vegetation.

(ii) River flows and water supply

Our vision: River flows in the Yarra are as close to natural as possible – with the flow rate at least two-thirds of the natural rate and the flow pattern supporting a rich and healthy river ecology.

(NB “two-thirds of natural” is recognised by river scientists as a rule of thumb for a healthy river.)

We believe that:

  • To restore near-natural flow rates, the amount of water extracted needs to be reduced by
    • measures to lower total water consumption and
    • policies and major investment in alternative sources, such as recycled “waste” water and stormwater;
  • To ensure a healthy flow pattern, the environmental flows program needs a greater water allocation and more security (e.g. government guarantee) during times of water scarcity.

(iii) Water quality and pollution

Our vision: The Yarra’s water can support all its naturally occurring aquatic life forms and is free of all pollutants that may be harmful to them or humans.

(NB This vision aligns with the objectives of the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria) which is the relevant legislative framework under Victoria’s environmental laws. It is also consistent with the vision of the international Waterkeeper movement, of which we are a member, of fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide.)

We believe that:

  • Whilst many measures are being implemented to reduce pollution, both at its source and in its transport to the river, the pollution is still unacceptable.
  • To stop pollution, all stormwater run-off and all used water (“waste water”) has all toxins and excess nutrients removed and is reused or infiltrated into the ground, such that none flows directly into the Yarra River.

(iv) Flora and fauna

Our vision: All the flora and fauna of the Yarra catchment are indigenous species except:

  • for endangered but non-indigenous native species, such as Macquarie Perch, for which the Yarra provides crucial habitat,
  • on land set aside for agriculture and recreation, and
  • where exotic species (pet and stock animals, food and garden plants) are securely contained.

(v) Other social values

Our vision: All Melburnians:

  • appreciate, understand, enjoy and celebrate the many wonders of the Yarra,
  • see its existence and its health as vital to their lives, and
  • actively care for it.