Constraints group meets

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Down to work: The constraints consultative committee (front row from left) Andrew Shields, Mark Turner, Sarina Loo, Tegan Livingston, Margot Henty, Jan Beer, Katie Warner, John Pettigrew, Norman (Tinawin) Wilson, Amanda Johnstone and Russell Pell; (back row, from left) Richard Sargood, Richard Anderson, Ann Hodge, Erin Round, Philippa Noble, Paul Bennett, Voytek Lapinski, James Kellerman, Pat McNamara, Jay Whittaker and Adam Nitschke.

The revived discussion over constraints to environmental flows in the Goulburn River kicked off in Shepparton on April 29 with the first formal meeting of a new consultative committee.

The committee includes representatives of landholders, environment groups, First Nations people and government agencies.

The group met under the chairmanship of former Victorian deputy premier Pat McNamara.

The committee is expected to produce a report which will be used to develop a feasibility study for the Victorian and federal governments.

It is expected to look at preferred flow rates; levels of community support; environmental, cultural and social benefits; updated technical work; recommendations for community engagement; compensation; and design standards for on-farm and public works.

The committee may also consider the lack of accurate monitoring stations along the river.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has identified “significant gaps” in the rainfall monitoring network in the catchments between Lake Eildon and Trawool.

Some streamflow gauges at key sites in the Goulburn unregulated system lack telemetry systems and therefore data from these sites cannot be incorporated into real-time river operations decision-making, according to DELWP documents.

In charge: Constraints consultative committee chair Pat McNamara at the group’s first meeting.

The 2017 DELWP business case put the total estimated cost of the project at $71 million.

The original project recommended consultation, upgrading of monitoring networks and other technical investigations should have been carried out up to 2022.