View Of The Yarra River, Melbourne, Victoria

The Greater Melbourne community is being called on to share feedback on the newly released draft Greater Melbourne Urban Water and System Strategy: Water for Life.

Developed by Greater Western Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water, the strategy is a shared plan to ensure Greater Melbourne’s water needs continue to be met for the next 50 years.

The strategy investigates water security in the face of population growth, climate change and reduced rainfall.

Melbourne is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, and water makes a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of the population and making communities a great place to live, work and play.

However, Victoria’s climate is becoming increasingly hotter and drier, and there’s less water in rivers. The state’s population is also growing and set to double by 2070 – meaning more people relying on our precious, limited supply of water.

By 2070, even with substantial annual contributions from our existing Victorian Desalination Plant, Victoria may need to double our water supplies – adding an average of 12 billion litres each year. 

Yarra Valley Water Managing Director, Pat McCafferty, said Melbourne is the nation’s fastest growing city with Victoria’s population and that’s why it’s important to act now to ensure that there is enough water in future.

“Our climate is changing, and we need to act so I urge everyone who lives in Greater Melbourne to have a say on the draft strategy and contribute to ensuring we have enough water for the next 50 years,” Mr McCafferty said.

“We need to adapt to our changing climate and increased demand for water – so we can continue supporting agriculture, industry and jobs while ensuring we have water for environmental, cultural and recreational use.”

The draft strategy provides a detailed view of how water corporations can deliver on policy directives in the Victorian Government’s Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy discussion draft.

The sustainable water strategy considers the broader impacts of the challenges to water security for urban and regional communities, agriculture and Traditional Owners, and the health of our rivers and waterways across the entire Central and Gippsland region. 

Current modelling shows that to manage our water supply responsibly, and to keep storages at the levels required to avoid water restrictions, we will need new climate-resilient sources of water over the coming decades.

Even with the additional water regularly supplied from the Victorian Desalination Project, our existing network of dams is largely reliant on rainfall, and to meet Greater Melbourne’s future water needs we will need additional supplies.

Investment in water efficiency and conservation efforts and integrated water management solutions such as optimising our existing network, increasing stormwater harvesting, use of recycled water and rainwater, will also play a critical role in providing a resilient water future.

Throughout the strategy, options have been considered in three categories: 

  • Water efficiency and conservation to reduce demand on our system. For example, behaviour change programs, digital meters and water efficient household appliances 
  • Using diverse sources of water to reduce demand on our system. For example, stormwater harvesting for irrigation of parks or ovals
  • Supply system augmentations to increase water supply to our system. For example, manufactured water, such as desalination or fit-for-purpose recycled water

But before the final strategy can be submitted, Greater Western Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water need community input. 

Share your feedback or register to attend a community webinar here.

The survey closes 13 July 2022.  

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