World Water Week – The Value of Water
The theme of this year’s event is “Seeing the Unseen: The Value of Water” with a focus on the diverse aspects of water, how others view and value water and the exploration of water’s full value to society.
Across the Wimmera our waterways and wetlands have a big impact on our lives in many ways. Water attracts people which builds tourism up and benefits businesses. Water provides a place for people to gather, exercise and do activites, sight-see, relax and meditate. Water provides a drink to animals, birds and plants. It gives fish, yabbies and muscles a home.
Water provides economic, social and environmental benefits to our region.
WDA, in association with Wimmera CMA, released a report on the Economic Value: Selected Wimmera River Events 2022. This report reviewed the Horsham and Jeparit fishing contests and the Dimboola barefoot water-ski tournament in 2022 and found there was a over $800,000 generated in economic activity and involved over 4,500 people.
Back in 2009, Wimmera CMA undertook a project ‘Community and socio-economic impact of Wimmera River water’ analysing the impacts on people in the lower Wimmera catchment following a decade of drought. The Wimmera River had been dry between Horsham and Jeparit since 1996 and extensive flows had just flowed through to fill both Dimboola and Jeparit weirs.
The impact the return of the water had on peoples health and wellbeing was huge.
Comments from community members during project meetings included:
“Having water come down the river has provided the town with the biggest anti-depressant imaginable. It’s fantastic.”
“Last summer we could see a growing community stress level in all our shire communities.”
“People are up and about. People are no longer dragging their bottom lip in the gravel.”
An overt community enthusiasm greeted water flowing down the Wimmera River in 2009. Despite cool September conditions and debris still flowing towards a spilling weir, people were swimming and partying. Crowds of beaming people lined the river bank, following the progress the flow and all were excited.
Towns across the Wimmera have strong cultural, sporting and social connections to their waterways and local wetlands. People use the waterways and wetlands as a place to fish, sight-see, boat, ski, run and walk and generally gather. Water in the rivers, creeks and wetlands also means tourism and survival for the small rural town businesses throughout the Wimmera.
What is the Value of Water in the Wimmera? Priceless!