Our natural and built environments are healthy and operate sustainably

Goal Feedback 2.3

Improving new ways to manage water more effectively in a changing climate

Catchment Management Authorities, Murray Darling Basin Authority, and Local Communities need to work together to find a balance between priorities and pursue innovative water management interventions.

Climate change is one of the most pressing threats. Availability of renewable surface and groundwater resources is likely to decrease significantly in the Northern parts of our region. This will exacerbate competition for water between agriculture, ecosystems, industry and settlements.

We have already seen significant rises in water prices in our area, making the price or irrigation high for many small family-operated farms. While there has been an enormous investment from the government in more effect, irrigation infrastructure and approaches are needed to keep costs down in the future.

Objective Feedback 2.3.1

Supporting more creative ways to manage land or reintroducing Aboriginal land management practices

To protect the many threatened species in our region, we need to go beyond traditional approaches to minimise or offset impacts to local flora and fauna.

Under a changing climate, we require more effective land management practices that will reverse species’ decline.

Supporting Traditional Owners to manage their Country is critical. Their traditional methods are deeply connected to land function and health. A healthy landscape will provide carbon benefits by reducing emissions from vegetation clearing and continued carbon sequestration. Healthy landscapes will also offer greater resilience to our built environments from heatwaves, floods and storms.

Land managers will need to collaborate to look at ways to restore ecosystem functions across our landscape.

Objective Feedback 2.3.2

Support innovations for healthy green spaces and parks amongst towns and cities in the region

The delivery of ‘green’ or ‘blue’ infrastructure in rural cities and towns in Loddon Mallee will need to be a core strategy for climate resilience and improved liveability.

These assets are vital for our communities’ health and well-being, critical habitat for wildlife, and clean water and air. For places like Bendigo, green spaces are what makes the city attractive to work and live.

For decades the region has experienced permanent water restrictions and periods of extreme heat and drought. Many of our green spaces like parks, gardens, street trees and ovals, continue to be under immense stress and are already in a state of accelerated decline. With aging tree stock and highly utilised green spaces in many areas (particularly in our rural cities), green assets are highly vulnerable to the changing climate.

It will be crucial to support land managers of green spaces like our local government to innovate, pro-actively plan, and deliver green infrastructure. Our urban and town centres can exploit the benefits of local water management and urban greening while also creating attractive and successful cities and towns.

Objective Feedback 2.3.3

Improving our infrastructure in towns and cities to be more resilient to extreme weather events and conditions.

Renewable energy
There is considerable opportunity for Loddon Mallee to move its energy systems to renewable sources, such as solar, wind and hydro power.

Victoria has committed to a net-zero target by 2050, meaning all energy will be from renewable sources. In 2020, Victoria achieved their Renewable Energy Targets of 25%, with 16% of the renewable energy for the state, generated in Loddon Mallee. If all solar and wind projects in the pipeline go ahead, the 40% renewable energy targets by 2025 could be met by our region alone, and Loddon Mallee would become ‘500% renewable’.

Resilient Infrastructure
The energy infrastructure, roads, bridges, rail and flood levies all need to be built with resilience in mind. Resilience is the ability of a system to bounce back. So, considering the effects of a changing climate, upsizing the design-limits of new infrastructure will be key to ensuring our communities can continue functioning during extreme events.

Objective Feedback 2.3.4

Supporting innovations to the built environments to support a more decarbonised and circular economy

The Green Building industry is moving more from the terms ‘carbon-neutral’ and ‘net-zero’ to now ‘carbon-positive buildings’.

This means that the buildings will generate more energy over their life than the energy consumed in all phases of the building’s life cycle: materials, construction, operation, and end of life processing.

This wholistic approach is necessary going forward given how much energy is used in buildings before and after occupation. The energy used to generate materials is called the ‘embodied energy’, which can be very carbon intensive for materials such as concrete and steel. Furthermore, end of life processing sees a significant amount of construction and demolition waste going to landfill. Using materials that can be easily recycled or repurposed will be critical into the future.

Objective Feedback 2.3.5