All regional NRM organisations deliver actions to improve the health of waterways and most include water in their regional planning. Regional NRM organisations are also becoming increasingly important in the management of Environmental Water Reserves. In some States they are the body that develops Annual Watering Plans around climate scenarios, working with Water Corporations to deliver environmental water to priority sites, and undertaking long-term intervention monitoring programs. The maturity of this model is now seeing water planning occurring across catchment boundaries and ultimately State boundaries.
Some examples of major water programs that our members are engaged with include:
Regional NRMs in the Reef Catchments area in Queensland are working with farmers to reduce sediment and nutrient input to the Great Barrier Reef;
Regional NRMs along the Murray River Corridor have formed an Alliance to coordinate land and water management works to maximise environmental benefits and improve irrigation efficiency and drainage to assist with meeting the outcomes of the Basin Plan;
In South Australia, regional NRMs are responsible for water allocation planning and the application of funds generated by those plans;
In Tasmania, Regional NRMs are assisting with the irrigation developments in northern Tasmania to ensure new developments meet best practice irrigation development;
In Victoria, Regional NRMs (Catchment Management Authorities) are formally designated as the caretakers of river health and facilitate environmental watering, land management and river health programs. This approach to integrated catchment management is facilitated by the recent release of the State Strategy 'Our Catchments Our Communities'
In addition to these major initiatives, all regional NRM organisations support local projects designed to improve the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains within their regions. Regional NRM organisations are important partners in the development of water planning processes across Australia, particularly in Victoria, NSW, SA and Qld. This is due to their knowledge and skills around environmental water, on-farm water use, river health, sustainable irrigation practices, and community and stakeholder partnerships.

The Caring for the Campaspe project is the first large scale on-ground works project to deliver river health improvements for the Campaspe River from its headwaters near Ashbourne to the Murray River at Echuca.

The Campaspe River contains several threatened vegetation communities, aquatic life and provides habitat for many terrestrial species, such as the threatened Swift Parrot and Squirrel Glider.

The overall goal of Caring for the Campaspe, funded by the Victorian Government through the Regional Riparian Action Plan, is to improve the condition of riparian vegetation leading to improvements in the aquatic and riparian ecosystem health of the Campaspe River and build strong working relationships with landholders.

Since 2012, the North Central CMA has been providing fencing, offstream watering, weed control and revegetation incentives with interested land managers on both public and privately owned along the river’s length. The particularly complements the delivery of environmental flows downstream of Lake Eppalock.

One area in which Regional NRM organisations are leading the way that supports future water reform processes is in engaging with Traditional Owners and Indigenous land managers, by incorporating traditional ecological knowledge and an understanding the value of cultural water. Most Regional NRM organisations now have Indigenous Participation Plans or equivalent, driving regular and meaningful engagement with Traditional Owners, and working to include Indigenous ecological knowledge in integrated catchment (land and water) planning. It is important to recognise in future water reform that Traditional Owners are not only seeking to influence and control decision making around cultural water, but are also seeking their rights to water to drive social enterprise opportunities achieving economic outcomes.

Budj Bim Connections - Glenelg Hopkins CMA Flagship Waterway Project

The Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape is a section of volcanic plain that encompasses the area from Mt Eccles to the sea. The basalt lava flow created a series of wetlands and rivers including Lake Condah, Darlot Creek and Fitzroy River and estuary. The project is pioneering a new state-wide approach for tracking progress and reporting back to communities, using citizen science as part of this. The new approach will help to better demonstrate the social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits for communities.
The Budj Bim landscape is sacred to the Gunditjmara and this project is working with Traditional Owners, farmers and the community to improve the condition of native vegetation, connectivity and foster sharing and integration of Aboriginal knowledge.