Progressing a 9km network of paths around the Goulburn Valley river system, achieving 75 per cent less dumped rubbish, revegetating, improving water quality and developing activity sites along the river.
These are among the five-year targets of a recently endorsed strategic plan for RiverConnect.
More broadly, the strategy centres around river education and health, increasing appreciation and awareness of the region’s rivers, boosting tourism opportunities and tackling the Eastbank Lake Precinct project.
Greater Shepparton City Councillors last month spoke emotively on the need for Sheppartonians to show more love and care for the river the city has ‘‘turned its back on’’.
Cr Dennis Patterson expressed his pride in the final plan, which he described as the group’s roadmap document through to 2022 identifying goals, priorities ‘‘as we build more resilient and accessible river environments’’.
‘‘This will include boat ramps and access pontoons,’’ he said.
‘‘We have a great asset running right here at the back of us, and so many people don’t know what’s down there.
‘‘They don’t know the value we have and what that river is worth to us ... it’s so unutilised still.’’
Alongside education and rehabilitation, Cr Patterson highlighted access as a big need, given it was ‘‘reasonably difficult to get down there’’.
Addressing illegal dumping remained a focus of the document, and in particular finding out ‘‘where that dumping is coming from’’.
‘‘If we get a flood, you look at the bridge, it’s covered with litter.
‘‘If we can (target) where it’s coming from we have a really good chance at cutting it down,’’ she said.
Cr Fern Summer recalled a canoe trip, where the level of diversity in the system amazed her.
‘‘Some of the birds, the wildlife down there migrate from other countries,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve turned our back to the river ... we really need to start realising what’s on our doorstep.’’
Concluding, Cr Summer said most people visiting the river currently either had an appreciation of the area already, or wanted to dump rubbish, something she summed up as a ‘‘terrible situation’’.