Watery Places: Stories of Environmental and Community Renewal

  • Jessica ReevesEmail author
  • Fern Hames
  • Michelle Graymore


Not only is water essential to life, it also has the ability to heal; connecting ecosystems with community for mutual renewal. Here we focus on three regional centres in Victoria, Australia, where water systems have been severely impacted, causing vulnerability to environmental health and social fabric. Each case study shows fractured communities finding a connection to place through the vitality—not just the amenity—of water. The Black Saturday wildfires of 2009 left the community of Marysville devastated. The waterways also suffered from severely degraded water quality. Whereas people may choose to walk away, fish cannot. The first case study involves a partnership between state government authorities and community to move a threatened population of Barred Galaxias to safer waters, return them to their home two years later, rehabilitate habitat, and grow advocacy. This is a story of entwined ecological and community renewal. Maryborough, once a bustling regional centre, suffered from the double impact of economic downturn and the Millennial Drought (2000–2010). The drinking water quality decreased so significantly, that one of Victoria’s most disadvantaged communities no longer trusted what came out of the tap. An examination of this breakdown in trust enabled the local water authority to explore ways to rebuild confidence and reconnect people to town water. The Morwell River has been significantly modified by the coal mines and power stations of the Latrobe Valley. The closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in 2017 now provides an opportunity to give this river back to the community. This final study looks at the potential of ‘rewilding’ the Morwell River to return environmental and cultural heritage, and develop economic, social and educational outcomes.



The authors wish to acknowledge Central Highlands Water, who funded the research in Maryborough. The Marysville work was part of the ‘Rebuilding Together’ program, funded by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments’ Statewide Bushfire Recovery Plan after the 2009 wildfires. We are also grateful for access to the Jimmy Watson’s Naval Club for use as makeshift office space. We would like to thank Andrew Geschke at the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI), Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian State Government, who drafted the map for this chapter.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federation University AustraliaChurchillAustralia
  2. 2.Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental ResearchMelbourneAustralia

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