MIKE'S MUMBLES Snippet No: 20
Welcome to an important, hopefully thought provoking and fairly long Mumbles to start the New Year.
The Future Management of Lake Eildon.
"A Conversation Worth Having!!!"
Is the current management structure of Recreation, Land and On Water Activities on Lake Eildon the most appropriate for current needs and for the Future?
Is Lake Eildon achieving its potential of providing Jobs and Economic Development for the local communities?
Does the Infrastructure supporting Recreation on Lake Eildon meet current standards for use and safety?
Is there a better way moving forward?
A wise man once said; If you keep doing the same things the same way you have always done them and expect a different result, then this is a definition of madness.
In commencing this discussion, it must be clearly stated, this is not in any way a criticism of GMW. In my opinion, the relationship between Industry, Community and GMW has not been better than since the days of Ted Lech, who was the local face of the then State Rivers & Water Supply Commission.
Currently GMW is the Irrigation Water Supply Authority that manages the Water in Lake Eildon and the Dam Infrastructure for its many and varied important clients downstream.
It is also the Waterway Authority appointed by Transport Safety Victoria to manage Recreation & Safety on Lake Eildon.
Also GMW manages and administers the Lake Eildon Houseboat Regulations 2013 for Lake Eildon.
There are important strategic documents that were used to help inform the opinions in this discussion paper:-
(i) Lake Eildon Land & On Water Management Plan
(ii) Lake Eildon Recreation Boating Facilities Improvement Plan.
(iii) LEHIA "The Floating City".
(iv) Community Input to the 2013 Lake Eildon Houseboat Regulations
(v) BIA Vic, Drivers of Growth in Victoria.
(vi) Transport Safety Victoria; Boating Behaviour 2014.
(vii) The Eildon Structure Plan (Preliminary work).
Plus the Minutes of DELWP called meetings on Lake Eildon issues in November 2015 (@Holmesglen Eildon) and December 2015 (@ DELWP Alexandra).
GMW representatives at meetings, over a long period of time, have stated that the CORE ROLE Business of GMW is to manage Lake Eildon and the Goulburn River System to deliver water for its clients, who have rights to this water, according to the protocols and procedures set out for them to comply with.
Recreation and associated activities are seen as NON-CORE and NON-PRESCRIBED activities. Activities they inherited from the days of the State Rivers & Water Supply Commission.
Further, they are not funded to provide the services they are required to as the Waterway Authority.
Senior GMW representatives have also stated that it is not right or appropriate that their Irrigation & Water Supply Clients should be subsidising the Recreational users of Lake Eildon. This is a valid point and is not disagreed with.
Further, GMW has a significant project of State & National importance to deliver the $2Billion upgrade of the Irrigation System. A project of this size presents significant challenges. Rightfully so, this is where the main focus of the Authority is at.
However, Recreation & Tourism at Lake Eildon is already a significant Regional Industry and provides a substantial number of jobs locally.
The BIA Vic publication "Drivers of Growth in Victoria" indicates the significance of the Recreational Boating Industry to the State of Victoria.
The Transport Safety Victoria Report on Boating Behaviour 2014 indicates that 58% of boating happens on the Bays & Coastal Areas.
42% of boating happens on Inland Waters.
Of this amount 25% happens on Lake Eildon.
This is a significant figure in itself.
The LEHIA publication, "The Floating City" amongst other things indicated that around 5,000 people would be on houseboats on Lake Eildon at the peak of the Summer Season. This would be in the top 15 towns in size in Regional Victoria.
These numbers do not take into account Holiday Homes; Clubs; Caravan Parks; & Camping.
Recreational Fishing is also important to the area, with Trout Fishing a major attraction; plus Native Fishing (Cod & Yellow Belly) is becoming more significant.
The Houseboat Fleet is valued at around $300million; this is without counting the pleasure craft of speedboats, jet skis etc.
The Infrastructure at the Marinas is valued at around $100million.
This all adds up to the Recreation & Tourism Industry at Lake Eildon is a significant Industry providing many valuable jobs.
An Industry of this importance and size should have an overarching, focused, coordinated, accountable and leadership body for it to realize the potential it has.
Recent Strategic Studies have indicated that Lake Eildon is not performing in realizing the economic potential of providing jobs to the local community.
Further, these studies also indicate that Recreational Infrastructure on Lake Eildon does not meet today's standards for use and safety and is very tired.
It is not GMW's role to provide and facilitate Economic Development opportunities from Recreation & Tourism at Lake Eildon.
Then whose role is this?
The most obvious Authority is Local Government
Lake Eildon is divided between two Shire Councils; Murrindindi & Mansfield Shire Councils.
Both are small Shires with relatively low rate bases, from which they derive their Rates Revenue.
Murrindindi Shire has been quite public about their financial constraints resulting from the aftermath of the Black Saturday Bushfires.
They have cut back services and their Economic Development Department has been part of these cutbacks.
Murrindindi Shire supports the Goulburn River Valley Tourism and the southern parts of the Shire align with the Yarra Valley Tourism.
Murrindindi Shire has one Councillor, out of seven, representing the Eildon Ward. The Shire has to look after Kinglake, Flowerdale, Yea, Alexandra, Marysville and the Farming community.
Murrindindi Shire desperately needs Jobs so people can move here and become Ratepayers.
Mansfield Shire Council, on the other hand, is very positive and supportive about Tourism. However, as a small shire, it is constrained with the funds it has available for Economic Development & Tourism Marketing.
Mansfield Shire is part of the North-East High Country focused Tourism and works closely with Mt. Buller.
Recent strategic documents indicate that Mansfield Shire ratepayers are subsidizing the impacts of Tourism (i.e. Rubbish collection & removal).
According to statements from both these Shires, the State Government policy on Rate Capping possible increases in Shire Rates will have an impact on both Shires and their ability to continue to provide services at current levels.
Summary of the Current Situation:
(i) GMW's Core Role is the provision of water for its clients. Recreation, Tourism, Economic Development and Marketing are Non-Core Roles.
(ii) Mansfield & Murrindindi Shires are constrained in providing Economic Development services and are not co-ordinated in Marketing Lake Eildon.
(iii) Recreation Infrastructure on Lake Eildon is tired and does not meet current standards.
(iv) The Recreation & Tourism Industry at Lake Eildon is a substantial Industry and there is no single leadership organization with its CORE ROLE as the Management, Economic Development and Marketing of Lake Eildon.
With a long history of 40 years of being associated with Business & Tourism Marketing of this Region; Recently, having been part of the Community Reference Group for the Lake Eildon Land & On Water Management Plan; now part of the Implementation Group for this Plan; Also having been involved with the Lake Eildon Recreation Boating Facilities Improvement Plan; Recently, attending DELWP called meetings dealing with issues affecting Lake Eildon (Falling Water Levels & GWTS); Plus assisting Lake Eildon Houseboat Industry Association (LEHIA) make the case to apply through Regional Development Victoria (RDV) for a Government Grant for Infrstructure Upgrades, it became very obvious to me, that we can put Band-Aids on issues, but there is fundamentally something wrong.
The current structure for managing Lake Eildon is not meeting the needs of today and no way can Lake Eildon realize its potential and provide JOBS and the associated benefits to our local communities, under the current management structures.
I refer back to the Preamble:-
A wise man once said; If you keep doing the same things the same way you have always done them and expect a different result, then this is a definition of madness.
If the current Management Structure is fundamentally flawed, then what is the solution?
What Model would work?
Without having to look to far, I see the Mt. Buller & Mt. Stirling Resort Management Board. Since havings discussions with people about this concept, I have been made aware of other possible models (Coastal Authorities).
The Mt. Buller Mt. Stirling Resort Management Board provides the central authority for the provision of services on Mt. Buller & Mt. Stirling. It also provides the central coordinated body for Marketing & Economic Development. It collects revenue from the businesses on Mt. Buller and from Visitors.
This provides a possible management model that could be investigated then altered to meet the needs of Lake Eildon.
A Lake Eildon Authority; The Lake Eildon Recreation, Land & On Water Management Authority (LERLOWMA) (Ler-Low-Ma); would be responsible for:-
(i) The Land and On Water Recreation & Tourism activities associated with Lake Eildon.
(ii) Be appointed by Transport Safety Victoria as the Waterway Authority for Lake Eildon; relieving this Non-Core Role from GMW.
(iii) The Coordinated Marketing of Lake Eildon.
(iv) The facilitation of the Economic Development of Lake Eildon.
(v) The Lake Eildon Houseboat Regulations 2013.
(vi) The Commercial Hire Houseboat & Boatel Fleet.
(vii) Licenced Jetties.
(viii) Clubs, Marinas & Caravan Parks leases currently with GMW.
(ix) Recreation Infrastructure:i.e. Launching Ramps; Public Toilet Blocks; etc.
(x) Would work with Parks Victoria on the visitor experience at the Lake Eildon National Park.
(xi) Would work with DELWP on the visitor experience at DELWP managed State Forest Camping Grounds.
GMW would still be responsible for:-
(i) The Rights to Water of current entitlement holders.
(ii) Managing the Water for its clients.
(iii) Managing the releases from Lake Eildon according to its current policies and procedures.
(iv) The Dam Infrastructure.
(v) Water quality measures to ensure the quality of water for its clients is maintained.
(vi) Would dispose of surplus freehold land adjacent to Lake Eildon & Eildon Township as a result of the Eildon Structure Plan.
Murrindindi & Mansfield Shires:-
(i) Still retain all Town Planning responsibilities.
(ii) Still collect the Rate Revenue from properties within their Shire Boundaries.
(iii) Still provide Local Government services to areas managed by the LERLOWMA.
(iv) Take over from GMW road infrastructure that rightfully should be the responsibility of Local Government to maintain as identified in the Eildon Structure Plan.
A detailed Memorandum Of Understanding would be worked through with GMW and the new LERLOWMA, as the two Authorities would have to work positively and closely together.
The MOU would clearly state that the Rights to Water of Current & Future Entitlement Holders would stay firmly with GMW and the Charter of the LERLOWMA would clearly state that it has no role at all with the Rights and Entitlements to the Water.
LERLOWMA would be managed by an appointed Management Board of Directors appointed by the Minister for Water and The Minister for Regional Economic Development of the State Government of the Day.
The process of appointment would be similar to the way Authority Boards are currently appointed.
It would be desired for the relevant Ministers in appointing Board Members to primarily consider Board Members with the appropriate skills and also associated with the following stakeholders:-
(i) Shire Council of Murrindindi
(ii) Shire Council of Mansfield
(iv) Caravan & Camping Industry surrounding Lake Eildon.
(v) Houseboat Industry & Commercial Hire Houseboat Industry from Lake Eildon.
(vi) Marinas & Clubs associated with Lake Eildon.
(vii) Skills based people.
Funding of LERLOWMA; Setup Costs & Ongoing Revenue:
The Recreation & Tourism Industry associated with Lake Eildon, currently administered by GMW, already produces substantial revenue.
This revenue is not only from Houseboats, but also Marinas, Clubs and Private Leases that are not Irrigation based, but are Tourism/Recreation based on GMW controlled land surrounding Lake Eildon.
The Lake Eildon Recreation Boating Facilities Improvement Plan provides recommendations that would generate extra revenue by encouraging & licensing new business opportunities around the Lake as well as adopting a "User Pay" principle.
By altering the Water Act to permit the Authority to sell new Houseboat Licences over an extended period of time would generate substantial ongoing revenue.
As outlined in the Transport Safety Victoria report "Boating Behaviour 2014", 42% of boating happens on Inland Waters; 25% of Inland Boating happens at Lake Eildon; this equates to around 10% of overall recreational boating happens at Lake Eildon.
Transport Safety Victoria administers and appoints Waterway Authorities. Vic Roads collects Boating Registration Fees on behalf of Transport Safety Victoria. A strong case can be made that LERLOWMA, as the appointed Waterway Authority by Transport Safety Victoria, should receive upto 10% of the Revenue received from Boating Registration fees, on an Annual basis.
It is understood that there would be costs associated with setting up LERLOWMA and this is where the Eildon Structure Plan is so important as it provides the opportunity to raise significant one off Revenue to fund this.
The Eildon Structure Plan is currently looking at Freehold Land under the control of GMW that is surplus to its requirements.
By adopting the appropriate Town Planning Zones to much of this land, it will become most attractive for types of Residential and or Tourism Business (Resort & Conference Centre) Developments.
The Sewerage Pipeline from Jerusalem Creek to the Eildon Township Sewerage Treatment System is integral to a lot of these development opportunities.
GMW is not a Land Developer, but by selling this land to Developers, under the appropriate Town Planning conditions, a considerable Capital Amount of Monies would be raised.
I would argue strongly, in the same way that Irrigators should not be subsidizing Recreation on Lake Eildon, that monies raised from Tourism/Recreation should stay with LERLOWMA.
These Development Opportunities will not be sold to Irrigators but to people wanting to enjoy the Lifestyle, which is Tourism based.
(i) The current management structure for Lake Eildon is disparate and is not focused and delivering for Lake Eildon and its communities.
(ii) The current recreational infrastructure at Lake Eildon is tired and does not meet today's standards.
(iii) Recreation & Tourism based on Lake Eildon is a significant Regional Industry.
(iv) There is significant potential for increased local jobs associated with Lake Eildon.
(v) There is a need for a central, focused, accountable, leadership body whose Core Roles are:-
(a) Managing Recreation & Tourism Activities on Lake Eildon and the associated Infrastructure to meet customers' needs and expectations at Lake Eildon.
(b) Coordinated Marketing of Lake Eildon.
(c) Facilitating Economic Development of Lake Eildon to provide JOBS for the Local Communities.
(vi) There is significant information to say LERLOWMA will be Financially Sustainable; This requires a Business Case to demonstrate this. The Business Case would investigate the different funding sources, as outlined and other possibilities, for the Setup Costs and Ongoing Revenue of LERLOWMA that would enable the above roles and responsibilities.
Where to from here?
Lobby for in principle support from Murrindindi & Mansfield Shire Councils, GMW and the Minister for Water and the Minister for Regional Economic Development to appoint a Consultancy to investigate the concepts, in this discussion paper, with a view to producing a Business Case to justify that this proposal has legs & stacks up.
I believe it has legs and will stack up.
What do you think?
Your feedback and thoughts appreciated.
Please feel free to forward this Mumbles to anyone you think maybe interested.
With the hot weather this week, enjoying the Magic of Lake Eildon is the place to be.
Enjoy; Keep Safe & all the best for 2016.
Remember, you can always check out the Lake on the Web Cam http://lakeeildon.com/
Mob: 0417 588 455
Web Site: http://highcountryhouseboatsales.com.au/