Melbourne’s water corporations have partnered to launch the Greater Melbourne Urban Water and System Strategy – Water for Life, a shared plan to secure Melbourne’s water supplies for the next 50 years.

Developed by Greater Western Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water, the strategy aims to balance Melbourne’s water needs by increasing efficiencies, diversifying water sources and using new water supplies.

Water for Life will deliver a range of options in three categories:

  1.   Supply system augmentations: Enhancing and expanding the existing system through climate resilient, manufactured water supplies (desalination, fit-for-purpose recycled water and treated stormwater)
  2.   Water efficiency and conservation solutions: Reducing demand on the system by continuing to invest in water conservation and efficiency programs
  3.   Integrated water management (IWM) solutions: Reducing demand on the system by increasing the use of diverse water sources, such as stormwater, rainwater, and fit-for-purpose recycled water

Melbourne has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities and water supply and accessibility makes a significant contribution to the prosperity of people and places. However, projected population growth together with uncertain climate conditions present challenges for Melbourne’s water future.  

Speaking on behalf of Melbourne’s water corporations, Greater Western Water’s Managing Director, Maree Lang, said while we have the benefit of time, we need to act now to be ready for the uncertainty that lies ahead.

“The findings show that keeping storages high and building system resilience will be key to managing future demand and climate variability,” Ms Lang said.

“The amount of water we have available can change quickly. Maintaining high storage levels helps ensure we can adapt while having time to plan and make system improvements.”

Ms Lang pointed to the need for the addition of new water supplies to support agriculture, industry and jobs as well as environmental, cultural and recreational needs into the future.

“We need to add alternative water supplies such as desalination, recycled water and stormwater to our existing system within the next ten years. We also need to make several supply system augmentations over the next 50 years,” Ms Lang said.

“Planning now will ensure we can deliver on these initiatives and future proof Greater Melbourne’s water supply.”

Melbourne’s water corporations have already begun delivering on projects that support outcomes of the strategy. This work is being coordinated through the recently established Managing Directors Accord, set up to tackle the region’s biggest challenges.

Water for Life will also deliver on policy directives in the Victorian Government’s Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy. These include supporting Melbourne households to achieve the new 150L daily water use target, returning water to Traditional Owners and the environment, and ensuring that rivers and waterways across the region are healthy .

Beyond industry collaboration, the strategy is also a shared plan with Traditional Owners and the community. Both groups developed a set of criteria that was used to assess and short-list future options.

Establishing genuine partnerships with Traditional Owners will enable greater involvement in water management and planning. Communities will also be encouraged to be more active in water efficiency initiatives and involved in future water supply planning.

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