The Victorian Government released a new $500 million water management framework.

The state says Water for Victoria will “guide smarter water management, bolster the water grid and support more liveable Victorian communities”.

Minister for Water Lisa Neville claims it is the first comprehensive state-wide water policy in over a decade

The plan includes $537 million in funding over the next four years for projects to boost water security, “protect jobs and agriculture”, and recognise Aboriginal water values.

For the first time, the plan recognises the value water has for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians.

The funding includes $9.7 million to support economic development and an Aboriginal Water Program to ensure Aboriginal participation in the planning and management of water resources.

The plan also prioritises recreational water use, funding projects for Donald Weir Pool, Taylors Lake and Green Lake near Sea Lake to build drought resilience.

It also seeks to expand the water grid, modernise existing water infrastructure and improve water delivery efficiency in regional areas.

Funds will flow to a market trial in southern Victoria that aims to harness the potential of the water grid and move water where it is most valuable.

The plans also demand a review of sustainable water strategies to re-balance the needs of irrigators, towns, farms, local businesses and recreational water users.

“It's central in helping Victoria address the challenges of population growth. By 2065 streamflows to some catchments could reduce by about 50 per cent, while the population is set to almost double by 2051,” an official statement says.

The plan includes projects already announced as part of the Victorian Budget 2016/17 including:

  • $222 million to address the health of waterways and catchments
  • $25 million to prepare Victorians for floods and other emergencies
  • $58 million for rural water system upgrades at Wedderburn, Bacchus Marsh and Werribee
  • $59.6 million to support irrigation modernisation projects and improve on-farm water efficiency
  • $30 million to extend the water grid in South Gippsland.