New research into the economic and health benefits generated by waterways in the Wimmera Southern Mallee is about to enter its second stage.
The socio-economic research by Street Ryan plans to repeat its assessment each year up to 2020. Last year's research revealed the mental health benefits and economic income generated from rivers, weir pools and lakes to Victorians across the region. The report, which may provide a benchmark for other research across the state, found that water provides a critical outlet for physical and mental relaxation, improving the overall health and wellbeing of residents and visitors – more important than ever during times of drought.
Last year's research commissioned by Wimmera Development Association (WDA) and funded by the Andrews Labor Government found that participation in recreational water activities in the region saw a total cost saving of more than $8.5 million dollars to both the health and mental health sectors in 2016-17. The study highlighted that more than 437,000 locals and visitors visited the 24 waterways analysed in the Wimmera Southern Mallee region in 2017 with a total economic benefit of $27.5 million.
Water for Victoria, recognises the recreational value of water to communities and the role water plays in helping sustain resilient, strong and healthy communities. New water legislation champions the requirement for water managers to consider the benefit and values of recreational water to communities. As part of this recognition, we have recently committed to fund works at Green Lake at Sea Lake so the whole community can gain from the benefits recreational water brings.
The Labor Government is also strongly supporting recreational fishing through our Target One Million plan.
This year's study will go into more depth to understand the health benefits of the region's waterways. The project will undertake surveys and collect data from across the region at locations where individuals and groups enjoy our lakes, rivers and weir-pools for recreational activity. It will also assess some waterways not previously included such as Lake Toolondo. Online interviews will be able to be completed by the community from January 1st to March 31st via the Wimmera Development Association website (www.wda.org.au).
This project involves a cooperative effort with local government and local community groups to catalogue the various benefits recreational and environmental water in rivers, weir pools and lakes provide to towns in the region and try and quantify them in terms of social and economic benefits. For example the Jeparit Fishing Competition brings substantial financial benefits with visitors coming from around Victoria. Various camp grounds adjoining lakes attract campers and fishers from both within and outside the region.
This research will help understand where investment to develop infrastructure and services associated with recreational water is needed.
For more information head to www.wcma.vic.gov.au
To complete the survey head to www.wda.org.au
Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville
"This study is an example of the importance of recreational water values to improving the economic security of regional areas and for the health and wellbeing of communities."
"It's critical that we continue to support and invest in the health of our waterways to ensure they continue to provide significant health and mental health benefits to locals and visitors across the state."
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaala Pulford
"We know the importance of attracting more recreational anglers to lakes and rivers across the state. It's great for regional economies and is even better for our health."
Mr Ralph Kenyon
Wimmera Development Association
03 5381 6500