RMIT University and Melbourne Water have formed a $5 million partnership to tackle pollution in Australia’s bays and waterways together.

Leading experts in aquatic ecology and pollution research will join forces to investigate ways to protect Melbourne’s waterways and keep them healthy for the long term.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Science, Engineering and Health, Professor Peter Coloe, said RMIT University was delighted to be a part of the five-year collaboration with Melbourne Water.

“The growing pressure from increasing population and urban development means it is vital to gain a greater understanding of current, new and emerging aquatic pollutants.

“Understanding how toxic chemicals and other pollutants are affecting our ecosystems, plants and animals is a key concern for us.

“We are looking forward to working with Melbourne Water to develop innovative ways to minimise the detrimental effects of aquatic pollutants and to boost the health of our community’s lifeblood – our waterways,” Mr Coloe said.

High profile researcher, Dr Vincent Pettigrove, will lead the research team, along with RMIT University Professor of Ecotoxicology, Dayanthi Nugegoda.

“Professor Nugegoda and Dr Vincent Pettigrove share an excellent track record in environmental toxicology and this partnership will build on their extensive scientific expertise and research success in this area,” Mr Coloe said.

“This exciting new partnership gives us an excellent opportunity to expand our research in an area that is of global importance.”

Melbourne Water Manager of Applied Research, Dr Judy Blackbeard, said that the work would support the protection and preservation of one of the most valuable resources.

“This new partnership is a great opportunity to further protect our waterways and bays from pollution, and work with leading researchers and institutions to ensure the best outcomes for the environment,” Ms Blackbeard said.

Key elements of the research will include:

  • Investigating pollutants including pesticides, industrial pollutants, and subtle and emerging pollutants such as nanoparticles and pharmaceuticals
  • Developing new ways to monitor and assess the risk of aquatic pollution
  • Focusing on chemicals that affect aquatic plants and animals
  • Identifying effective options to reduce aquatic pollution in waterways

The partnership will include a new research centre for aquatic pollution located at RMIT University’s School of Science, Bundoora West Campus.


Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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