(draft) Minutes Otway Barham Reference Group 13th December 2006

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Present: Paul Boyd (Colac Otway Shire), Rowan MacKenzie (Barwon Water), John Turner (CCMA), Simon Pockley (OBCLG), Denise Hooke (OBCLG), Yani Grbich (SOLN), Greg John (SOLN).

Chair: John Turner

Summary of Actions:

  • Action 1. Rowan McKenzie to provide (to Greg) data relating to Barham River monitoring
  • Action 2. Paul Boyd to report (to Greg) on Barham River monitoring results
  • Action 3: Simon Pockley to co-ordinate the development of a matrix Review of Barham River Health Monitoring Activities
  • Action 4. SOLN to organise for a speaker from ‘Trust for Nature’ to speak on the subject of the role of covenants in protecting projects hen land is sold
  • Action 5.
  • a. The name Action Plan will be replaced by Directions
  • b. Statements of Commitment will be added (these will be sent to Greg)
  • c. Brief bios of members of the Reference Group will be included. (these will be sent to Greg)
  • Action 6. John Turner to add an over-riding statement of principle that will capture a commitment to support other kinds of Community Initiatives.

Discussion about Previous Minutes:

Denise Hooke: What is the relationship between Tim Godfreys presentation and the actions?

Greg John: The presentation stood alone.

John Turner: We can pick this up later when we talk about the discussion paper.

Denise Hooke: Need to record that I left the meeting at 12:30

Discussion about Actions Arising:

Barwon Water has provided a map showing the testing points. However, this only shows testing points, not frequency of what other agencies are doing.

Denise Hooke: We need a summary of who is doing what and when

John Turner: We can go further, we need to see why we are monitoring. It is important to establish baseline data. Most of the data can be found in the River Health Strategy. [Greg nods and can provide this]. Historical data can be accessed through the Data Warehouse on the DSE website. Consistency is important if we are to understand:

a. long-term trends
b. special events
c. medium-term trends

CCMA is planning to set up an estuary watch and to install a continuous monitory system upstream of the Estuary. This will cost about $15k but we are concerned about who will pay ($3k-$4k per year) for maintenance.

Simon Pockley: The OBCLG knows exactly why it is monitoring the health of the river. We are monitoring because we want to know if the health of the Barham River is improving or getting worse. This is a measure of the effectiveness of Landcare activities.

Rowan McKenzie: Barwon Water is monitoring in order to understand the risks and if the water is potable.

Action 1. Rowan to provide (to Greg) data relating to Barham River monitoring.

Paul Boyd: The Shire is doing risk based monitoring with the EPA in the Estuary over summer (November - March) depending on conditions. Our health officer will be measuring fortnightly. The data goes to Geelong for analysis. We may have to put up signage warning of health risks.

Action 2. Paul to report (to Greg) on Barham River monitoring results

General discussion about monitoring objectives and the need for an overall monitoring program and review of monitoring activities. It was agreed that the overall objective was to monitor against the objectives of the Reference Group.

A draft matrix entitled - Review of Barham River Health Monitoring Activities was created on the white board.

Action 3: Simon Pockley to co-ordinate the development of a matrix Review of Barham River Health Monitoring Activities

The draft headings for the matrix as follows:

Barham River Monitoring Activities
Who Why What is measured Where When Data store
OBCLG Indicator of effectiveness of Landcare activities WaterWatch Waterway condition ratings 7 sites both East and West branches Monthly obclg.org
Tim Godfrey Education WaterWatch Waterway condition ratings Mainly Estuary with sites both East and West branches Jan 2004-Nov 2006 data also held by OBCLG
Barwon Water
COS
EPA
Parks Victoria
Deakin Uni
EMSS

Simon Pockley and Denise Hooke: reviewed the status of the actions resulting from the Minutes of the Forum. The matters discussed included:

1. How to Protect Landcare Projects when properties are sold

Rowan McKenzie: Barwon Water has covenants on some of its properties organised through Trust for Nature but that the details depend on the agreement.

John Turner: Section 173 agreements on titles can be used but they can be dismantled.

Paul Boyd: Council sometimes used Section 173 agreements but they are difficult to administer and police and have no teeth.

Action 4. SOLN to organise for a speaker from Trust for Nature to speak on the subject of the role of covenants in protecting projects when land is sold.

2. Rate Relief

Simon Pockley: Landholders are being penalised for undertaking environmentally sound projects. There have been crippling rate increases for Landholders on the Barham River. There is a clear need for rate relief based on accepted measures of environmental responsibility such as sustainable effluent treatment, riparian repair, establishment of native flora, visual amenity etc.

Paul Boyd: Difficult to administer, manage and police but worth presenting a model to council.

Rowan McKenzie: there should be an ombudsman who could help with this. Beth Davidson President of VLGA might be able to help.

John Turner: Also Municipal Association of Victoria (MUV)

3. Action Plan status

Denise Hooke: The risk table needs to be aligned with Management Actions. For Example, the extraction issue. If we were going to have a large water storage area, then water could be extracted from the Barham at an appropriate time. The smaller the storage the more likely it is that water will be extracted when there is little flow in the river.

Rowan McKenzie: From Barwon Water’s perspective, it does not alter the management actions id the risk is moved to ‘high’. There are obvious benefits for the Barham in building bigger storage.

Technically there is still only one site that will meet our storage needs (150-250 meglitres) and that is on The Great Ocean Green Golf Course Development. This is due to land stability and soil type. However, legal issues relating to acquiring the land have arisen.

General discussion followed relating to these issues and how they related to the health of the Barham River.

Role of the OBCLG

Denise Hooke: We would like to clearly identify a role for the OBCLG. It is difficult for the OBCLG to see where is fits into the current draft of the Action Plan. Overall we see it as more of a Framework that provides as context for our activities.

Rowan McKenzie: spoke to the Risk Assessment - draft recommendations document and outlined the specific responsibilities of SOLN, the Shire, and Barwon Water.

Simon Pockley: This is the point that that Denise has raised, very few of these recommendations relate to the OBCLG.

Denise Hooke: What was the context for this document?

Rowan McKenzie: Outlined the Land Capability study and the development of a map that would show what areas of the Catchment could be developed. He pointed to Recommendation 17 where Barwon Water sees itself as a Referring Authority. Barwon Water is averse to risk and that itself is a risk. If we don’t have a scientific basis for our consent or lack of consent then we end up in VCAT.

Denise Hooke: What happens when the site is not considered suitable?

Rowan McKenzie: It would be up to the applicant to show how they will manage the risk.

General discussion followed about the need to ensure that Barwon Water took a positive role and helped landholders find appropriate solutions that managed the risks.

Terminology

Denise Hooke: The action plan as it stands is really a Framework within which to develiop a plan.

John Turner: I would call it a Directions document. Actions are site specific. The document needs to be able to be identified within the overall Catchment Management Strategy. The Framework was where it started - Directions come out of it. Plans are specific to a time frame. Actions fall out of plans to complete the time frame and Activities have short time frames.

General discussion followed about terminology.

Action 5.
a. The name Action Plan will be replaced by Directions
b. Statements of Commitment will be added (these will be sent to Greg)
c. Brief bios of members of the Reference Group will be included. (these will be sent to Greg)

Cost Sharing Principles

John Turner: outlined the Cost Sharing Principles document.

Simon Pockley: There is a need for an overriding statement along the lines of.

When a project fits the River Health Strategy then it w ill be eligible for funding consideration.

The principles are very specific to the notion of ‘on the ground’ works and there may be projects outside of these notions such as the River Indicator Project or seed bank infrastructure.

Action 6. John to add an over-riding statement of principle that will capture a commitment to support other kinds of Community Initiatives.

Denise Hooke: Asked a the following questions in relation to Fencing and Construction
a. Does this really mean construction
b. Where access is difficult (helicopter in materials) is there provision for access

John Turner: There is sliding scale if we can demonstrate a higher diversity of outcome. The bottom line is to provide an incentive to the landholder. The important thing is that the environment should benefit not the landholder.

General discussion about landholder agreements and the status of the Community Water Grant thought to have lapsed but was now alive again.

John Turner: We can think beyond fencing off areas to be replanted. If some of the riparian areas that have either remain or have re-grown could be protected from stock then that’s a pretty good outcome.

There was further discussion about cost sharing principles.

2:15pm Paul Boyd left the meeting

Rowan McKenzie: Before I go I’d like to make sure that you understand the our expenditure on catchment management needs to be approved by the CCMA Rive Health Strategy and Essential Services. Currently $70 is allotted annually. Additionl funds were made available for Landcare support.

2:18pm Rowan left the meeting

Discussion paper LegalMonitoring02.doc [Word 24KB]: Legal issues related to monitoring the water quality of the Barham River

There was general discussion about the implications of the paper and background.

John Turner: We have to be careful not to create divisions. It is very important in a community that it is clear why we are monitoring and a whole of Catchment activity. It should always be bout cooperation and partnerships.

Simon Pockley: These kinds of incidents are gifts. They are like a complaining customer in a shop. They present an opportunity to turn the situation around so that it becomes an exemplary case study of how to succeed.

It was agreed that we would continue monitoring in les sensitive areas and avoid confrontation. Next year Greg would build on his existing relationship with the landholder and attempt to involve him in the process.

2:45pm meeting closed


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