Aboriginal Water Values

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The Project

Glenelg Hopkins CMA, in partnership with Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Barengi Gadjin Land Council, has funding from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to develop an Aboriginal Water Values project for the Glenelg River system from July 2015 to December 2016.

The Glenelg River starts in the Victoria Valley of the Grampians Mountain Ranges and runs for over 500 kilometres to the Southern Ocean. One of the longest rivers in Victoria, a short stretch of the estuary winds through South Australia before returning to Victoria. It is valued by Victorians and South Australians for its high social, economic, cultural and environmental attributes.

The Glenelg River runs through two Traditional Owner areas, managed by Gunditj Mirring TOAC and Barengi Gadjin Land Council, and is important to both groups. This project aims to capture some of the significant Aboriginal Water Values for the Glenelg system.

Aboriginal water research is required to ensure that Aboriginal water requirements and preferences are understood sufficiently. This will facilitate informed discussion on how Aboriginal values and uses can be delivered through Victoria’s existing water resource planning and implementation processes. To achieve this, an understanding of the intersection and overlap between ecological and cultural outcomes is essential.

Scar tree

Aboriginal scar tree

Glenelg Hopkins CMA develops the Environmental Water Management Plan (EWMP) for the Glenelg River. An EWMP is a scientifically-based management plan that sets long-term objectives for priority environmental values that receive environmental water. It provides the 5-10 year management intentions, based on both scientific information and stakeholder consultation. As part of the EWMP process the CMA will work with relevant Traditional Owner groups to identify Indigenous values of the Glenelg River system supported by the current environmental flow program. Sharing this knowledge is expected to enrich environmental water management in the Glenelg River.

Talking Points

  • Aboriginal Water is an emerging term that is increasingly being utilised by Aboriginal groups and academics to describe the full range of Aboriginal interests and aspirations in water. It encompasses both ‘Aboriginal environmental outcomes’ and ‘cultural flows’ and identifies improvements in environmental outcomes and economic benefits for Aboriginal communities.
  • Cultural flows have been defined as “water entitlements that are legally and beneficially owned by Indigenous Nations of a sufficient and adequate quantity and quality to improve the spiritual, cultural, environmental, social and economic conditions of those Indigenous Nations”.
  • The Glenelg River and Wannon River are major contributors to the Wimmera – Glenelg supply system. Flow is diverted from the Glenelg River via Moora Moora Reservoir and at Rocklands Reservoir. Rocklands Reservoir is the largest storage in the Wimmera-Mallee supply system with a total storage capacity of 348,300 ML. Environmental releases are made to the Glenelg River via the Rocklands Reservoir Wall outlet or by using the 5 Mile and 12 Mile outfalls along the Rocklands – Toolondo Channel.


Project Partners

  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
  • Barengi Gadjin Land Council
  • Glenelg Hopkins CMA

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03 5571 2526

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