In June 2004 the Victorian Government released its Our Water Our Future (OWOF) action plan. An important component of OWOF is establishing Environmental Water Reserves, the legal share of water for the environment, for all Victorian rivers, streams and groundwater systems. Government introduced the Water (Resource Management) Bill 2005 to amend the Water Act 1989 and from 2006 the act legally recognises the Environmental Water Reserve as the legal share of water for the environment.
The preparation and implementation of a Stream Flow Management Plan enhances the Environmental Water Reserve in priority, flows stressed, unregulated rivers. SFMPs, through Victorian River Health Strategy, released in 2002, and OWOF action plan are recognized as a crucial part of achieving Government's river health objectives.
What is a Streamflow Management Plan?
Streamflow Management Plans (SFMPs) aim to provide a balanced and sustainable sharing of available water between all water users in unregulated catchments. SFMPs are now recognized as Management Plans under the Water Act 1989 (as amended 2002) and are legally binding on individual water users and authorities.
SFMPs apply to unregulated streams. These are catchments where the flow in streams is not "regulated" by controlled releases from publicly owned dams to supply water to downstream users. In these systems flow is simply run of the river generated from rainfall runoff in the catchment.