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Special Projects

22nd September 2017

horsham fishing competitiondb2a026fdfec67aca7a3ff00001883abWimmera Development Association (WDA) in conjunction with project partners, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, GWMWater and the Wimmera Southern Mallee councils has completed a socio-economic study into the value of recreational and environmental water to the region.

This study has been a cooperative effort with local government and local community groups to catalogue and quantify the various social and economic benefits recreational and environmental water in rivers, pools and lakes provide to towns in the region.

The study reports on a series of surveys and data collected from across the region at locations where individuals and groups enjoy our lakes, rivers and weir-pools for recreational activity.

Key findings from the report have estimated in 2017 in excess of 437,000 people visited the 24 waterways that were surveyed, which included over 196,000 visitor nights and a high rate of both active and passive local participation. Visitation to the surveyed sites was made up by 43% of Wimmera Southern Mallee residents, 31% other Victorian Country and 11% Melbourne. The total regional economic contribution was estimated at $27.5 million.

The report has also highlighted the important contribution to the region’s towns by providing enhanced amenity and a critical outlet for physical and mental relaxation, improving the overall health and wellbeing of residents and visitors.  

An example of the substantial financial benefits of visitors coming from around Victoria was evident during the Horsham Fishing competition, with significant expenditure surveyed, increased visitation to small businesses and reports of increased sales by many businesses. This event is one of many that attract visitors to the region on an annual basis.

Various campgrounds adjoining lakes also bring and attract campers and fishers to the region, from both within and outside the state.

“Our Water Plan champions the concept of shared benefits for water management by ensuring that authorities are planning and managing water in a way that achieves multiple positives for the community’, Water Minister Lisa Neville said. “This study is an example of how to incorporate these values into decision making and ensuring the importance of recreational values are recognised as part of local economies and in improving the health and wellbeing of communities".

One of the aims of the study was to establish a base line data set and consistent measurement methods that will allow for a longitudinal study to identify seasonal patterns in coming years. Once collected and analysed the information will provide a better understanding of the economic impact of environmental and recreational water as well as the social benefits that these resources provide to the community.

We now have a better understanding of how to measure these values so that we can plan for future tourism, recreational and infrastructure facilities. Study outputs will also help to demonstrate the local and regional impacts to both State and Commonwealth Governments in order to attract support and funding for further development of infrastructure and services associated with recreational water.

Street Ryan Pty Ltd was been appointed as project consultant to develop a series of questionnaires that will be shared with local Committees of Management, sporting clubs and others likely to have an involvement in recreational water activity. The majority of the funding for the project has been made available by the Victorian Government via the Wimmera CMA.

VIEW THE FULL REPORT HERE:  Wimmera Southern Mallee: Socio-economic value of Recreational and Environmental Water 2017

As part of WimmeraCMA's program to continually improve our communities understanding of the benefits of water for the environment a film has been released coinciding with the release of this report.