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Cow faeces will continue to pollute most of Victoria’s rivers as the State Government prepares to re-issue stock grazing licences, despite receiving strong legal and scientific advice against doing so.
A new report, Human health risk from Crown water frontage licences, released today from Monash University, links human health risks and poor water quality to rivers in which cattle are permitted to graze.
A group of concerned scientists have also written to Premier John Brumby today, urging him to reconsider issuing the new licences.
The scientists’ letter says: "The re-issuing of grazing licences will not only have significant, detrimental impacts on water quality, river health, human health and biodiversity; it will also see Victoria lagging far behind many other countries and states in terms of responsible waterways management.
Spokesman for the scientists, Dr Doug Robinson, said the state government needed to act responsibly.
"Re-issuing these grazing licences flies in the face of the scientific evidence and will continue to degrade Victoria's rivers. The latest scientific report from Monash University highlights the need for change, particularly in relation to human health impacts," he said.
Leading conservation groups are urging the Victorian Government to act in the best interests of the environment and public health.
"Cows belong in paddocks, not in our rivers," said Dr Paul Sinclair, Australian Conservation Foundation’s Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager.
"The Victorian Government has a once-in-five-year opportunity to get this right."
The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) is concerned some areas within the Department of Sustainability and Environment are resisting change and holding back much needed reforms for public riparian land.
"This is a good opportunity for the Brumby Government to create a strong policy that will improve water quality and river health," VNPA spokesperson Nick Roberts said.
“Those within government who are responsible must act in the public interest to protect human health by ensuring these licences are not re-issued in their current form.”