River Health

The State Government published (September 2013) its latest Index of Stream Conditions for the Yarra. Five aspects of river condition – hydrology, streamside zone, physical form, water quality and aquatic life – are combined to give an overall measure of environmental condition. The results show that only a small proportion of the Yarra and its tributaries (12% of their length) is in good or better condition and over half (57%) is in poor or worse condition.

There are two qualifications. Firstly the data relates to 2010 just before the end of the last drought. Secondly the benchmark for “excellent” is what the river’s condition would be if undisturbed by human settlement. This benchmark, whilst useful, is not an appropriate long-term aim (or vision) for Melbourne’s major waterway, but the government has not defined another. Yrka has proposed a vision of the Yarra we want, and urges the government to do likewise (with input from the community) as a means of guiding needed river improvements. For more information, download a copy of the Index of Stream Condition for the Yarra.

As the official caretaker of the Yarra, Melbourne Water reports on compliance with the State environment protection policies (SEPPs). For more information, download a copy of the relevant extract from Melbourne Water’s Environment Compliance report Q3 (2012/13).