The Victorian Government has appointed a Ministerial Advisory Committee to make recommendations on how best to protect the health, amenity, access and community values of waterways in the West of Melbourne. The Waterways of the West committee will investigate issues affecting rivers and creeks, such as the Werribee and Maribyrnong Rivers and Kororoit and Skeleton Creeks. Recommendations may include changes to land use planning controls, responsibilities for land and water management and better ways to involve and work with community and Traditional Owners to protect these waterways.
Understanding the Waterways of the West
These waterways and their surrounding land are part of the Traditional lands of the Kulin Nations. The Traditional Owners include the Wurundjeri and Wadawurrung peoples.
The landscape of the West is complex and unique and includes steep river gorges, vast open plains, shallow waterways with undefined banks and river flats. These areas support diverse forests, significant grasslands, coastal wetlands and estuarine ecosystems. In the upper Werribee catchment, glacial deposits have created landscapes of significant geological and recreational value, including the Werribee and Lederderg Gorges. Deep gorges in mid Maribyrnong provide the area with distinct landscape features. Coastal wetlands and estuaries provide important bird habitat for migratory shorebirds and are recognised as wetlands of international and national significance.
These waterways experience diverse rainfall patterns but are naturally much drier than in the east of Melbourne. In the headwaters, as much as 1000 mm per year can fall. In the rain-shadowed southern plains near Melton and Werribee up to 450 mm per year may fall. Predicated climate change impacts are likely to result in a hotter and drier west.
Recreational pursuits are highly valued within the lower floodplain of the Maribyrnong and Werribee Rivers. The rivers are often used for commuting and for recreational running and cycling. The Werribee estuary and the lower Maribyrnong are used for boating. Public access to the Waterways of the West is dependent on the range of land use zones and land managers, with missing links in the networks of pathways and parklands.
Victorians are invited to input into the Ministerial Advisory Committee recommendations and help shape future decision making for the Waterways of the West.
Below are a series of questions which help us better understand the pressures and opportunities facing your valued waterways.
Introducing the Ministerial Advisory Committee
Healthy waterways and their associated parklands are important for the health and wellbeing of all Victorians.
Rivers and creeks in Melbourne’s fast-growing west are valued places for communities. In response to strong community advocacy and recommendations in policy to look at extending the Yarra River protections to other urban waterways, the Victorian Government has formed a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) for the Waterways of the West. The Waterways of the West includes the Maribyrnong River, Werribee River and the Moonee Ponds Creek, their tributaries and other rivers, creeks and wetlands such as Stony Creek, Kororoit Creek and Lollypop Creek.
The MAC includes members with extensive experience in water management, planning, local government and cultural values: Chris Chesterfield (Chair), Dave Wandin, Melinda Kennedy, Diane Kerr, Alice Kolasa, Shelley Penn and Lydia Wilson.
The Ministers for Water and Planning have asked the MAC to:
- develop a community vision for the waterways and their landscapes
- identify current and emerging issues affecting the social, environmental and cultural values of these waterways
- investigate the best institutional, legislative and regulatory arrangements for the management, promotion and protection of the waterways
- support Traditional Owners and the community to take part in management decisions and action
- investigate land use planning and development controls and strategic policy that would mitigate risk to the Waterways of the West and provide net benefit to the communities of the region
- identify any interim land use planning arrangements that could be put in place immediately
- prioritise the issues and opportunities and make recommendations for specific cost-effective actions and any mandatory requirements for the protection of the waterways.