Tuross River
Community comment on the objectives

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A community discussion meeting, which was attended by 40 people and included consideration of the Tuross catchment, was held in Moruya; a meeting for Aboriginal people was held at Narooma and was attended by representatives of many south coast Aboriginal communities; and several written submissions were received.

A water management committee has been set up for the far south coast catchments, including the Tuross catchment. The committee will consider the environmental objectives for the purposes of developing a water management plan.

Water quality and value of the resource

Community comments indicated a high level of support for a healthy catchment, with good quality water and sufficient flows-both from a resource point of view, and because of the feelings of attachment and well-being associated with knowing the catchment was healthy. People wanted unpolluted water, rehabilitated riparian zones, and a diversity of native animals with their habitats protected. A broad range of environmental problems within the catchment was identified (see Major Issues, below).

There was widespread recognition that achievement of the objectives would have some cost for the community, although most comments indicated that having a healthy catchment was worthwhile. Many people acknowledged that a healthy ecosystem was necessary to support locally important industries (tourism, fishing, oyster farming, recreation) and to enable them to continue with the lifestyle they have come to expect. A number of people strongly supported spreading the costs throughout the community, rather than targeting a particular sector, as they recognised that the community as a whole would benefit from achieving good water quality and a flow regime that protected both human and environmental health. The local community wish to be involved in deciding how to work towards meeting the objectives, and in determining actual requirements.

The catchment community supported all the proposed environmental values and the corresponding objectives, with a healthy aquatic ecology (protection of aquatic ecosystems), safe swimming (primary contact recreation), having the water look clean and pleasant (visual amenity), being able to drink the water after minimal treatment (drinking water supply), and being able to use the water for household purposes (homestead water supply) being particularly significant uses within the catchment. Most people wanted very good water quality.

River flows

The responses indicated that the community considered the most important flow issue was the protection of the estuary (maintaining or rehabilitating estuarine processes and habitats). There was also support for many other proposed flow objectives, including:

Achieving a balance between rural and urban water usage was a common concern. Interested dairy farmers and irrigators on the Tuross River have formed the Tuross Water Users Association, and are interested in developing a flow management plan.

While there was overall support for the concept of improving river health, some people said that the discussion papers (EPA 1997) lacked sufficient information; and some expressed doubt whether action to rectify environmental problems would really happen.

Major issues

The process of developing the objectives has identified major issues that would need progressive action to achieve a healthy and viable Tuross River catchment. Comment on some of these is included in Section 3, as part of setting objectives.

The following issues have been recommended by various groups and individuals for priority action:

Existing programs

Some of the above issues already receive considerable attention and resources. Communities, through Landcare, Rivercare and other programs, are now undertaking important on-the-ground projects. The NSW Government has established and funded programs such as Blue-Green Algae Management, Estuary Management Program, Floodplain Management Program, Wetlands Action, the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program and the NSW Shellfish Quality Assurance Program. At the Commonwealth level, relevant programs are being funded through Landcare and the Natural Heritage Trust.

Where management plans and actions such as these are already under way in the catchment, they should be acknowledged and, where possible, incorporated in the water management plan.

This page was published 1 May 2006