Melbourne Water’s water system strategy details its plans for water resource management in Melbourne over the next 50 years.
The Melbourne Water System Strategy, released in July 2017, presents a system-wide view of water resource management across Melbourne and the surrounding region until 2065, and has been developed in collaboration with the metropolitan and regional water businesses that are supplied from the Melbourne Water supply system.
The strategy outlines Melbourne Water’s contribution to implementing relevant policy directions set by Water for Victoria, the Victorian Government’s water plan. Ultimately the strategy seeks to ensure Melbourne continues to have access to secure, affordable, world-class drinking water.
Melbourne Water manages the city’s water supply system to ensure there is enough water in storage to maintain supply if Melbourne again faces a severe drought situation such as 10 years of below average rainfall.
Melbourne Water Manager, Water Resources, Bruce Rhodes, said the Melbourne Water System Strategy outlined a range of options for supporting the growing city.
“We are preparing for continuing population growth and climate change as we look toward 2065,” Mr Rhodes said.
“This strategy outlines an adaptive portfolio approach to supporting Melbourne’s water needs in collaboration with the metropolitan and regional water businesses.
“We know that over the next 50 years the population of Melbourne and the surrounding region will continue to grow rapidly.
“Not only is our city growing significantly at its edges, it is also becoming increasingly dense within the metropolitan area and CBD.
“Having access to safe, affordable water – for households, businesses, and other users, and for keeping our open spaces green – is essential for Melbourne as a liveable and vibrant, growing city.
“To plan and manage Melbourne’s water resources we also need to better understand the relationship between climate and water availability from our assets.
“We live in a variable climate and we need to be prepared for droughts – potentially even droughts more significant than the Millennium Drought we observed between 1997 and 2009.”
The strategy outlines an adaptive portfolio approach with four key elements that may be used to manage the challenges ahead: making the most of the water supply system, using water efficiently, using diverse sources of water, and optimising the water grid and market.
Making the most of the water supply system
More than four million people in Melbourne and the surrounding region are currently connected to the water supply system. The reliable, high-quality water from the water supply system supports liveability, economic growth and jobs across Melbourne and the surrounding region.
Using water efficiently
The Millennium Drought from 1997 to 2009 highlighted that water from any source is a valuable resource, which we need to use efficiently.
Melburnians made some great water savings during the Millennium Drought, with water consumption decreasing by more than 30 per cent between 1997 and 2009 despite the population growth that occurred during that time – around 500,000 additional people in Melbourne.
Using diverse sources of water
Mr Rhodes said that rainwater, stormwater and recycled water are valuable water resources which can potentially be used for water supplies for a range of uses which reduces demand on the water supply system.
These water resources are expected to continue to grow in volume in the future, as the population grows and more land becomes covered with impervious surfaces like roofs and roads.
“By working with our customers and stakeholders to capture and use these resources, we will contribute to increasing open green spaces which are maintained with stormwater, keeping more parks and gardens cool and green during dry periods, and supporting flood management and the health of waterways and bays across our region,” Mr Rhodes said.
Optimising the water grid and the market
Mr Rhodes said water can be transferred through the water grid across the region to customers wherever it is needed most.
“The water grid and the water market that emerges from the south central market trial (outlined in Water for Victoria) will help to support and enable water to be shared increasingly effectively across our region,” Mr Rhodes said.
“Together with the metropolitan and regional water businesses, we can deliver water use efficiency initiatives, increase the use of diverse sources of water like rainwater, stormwater and recycled water, and enable and optimise investments in the water supply system – and the water resources made available through these investments can be shared through the water grid and market.
“We will continue working with the community, the metropolitan and regional water businesses, and other stakeholders to continue providing safe, affordable world class water to Melbourne and the surrounding region into the future.”