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The Building a sustainable water sector environmental contribution 5 initiative will play an important role in putting in place long-term strategic plans and processes to ensure water security and improved resilience of the water sector for Victoria’s future.

This initiative is expected to deliver key actions in Water for Victoria, including legislative and policy reforms to improve:

  • strategic water planning and management
  • sustainability and resilience of Victoria’s water sector
  • improved reporting, monitoring and evaluation of EC investments to provide robust, evidence-based planning for water supply investment decisions and to address the impacts of water extraction on the environment and communities.

Environmental contribution 5 (EC5)

Program title 2020-21 expenditure ($'000) 2021–22
expenditure ($'000)

Building a sustainable water sector


Long-term water security

This project aims to promote the sustainable management of water by developing a long-term, coordinated approach for improving water security across Victoria, including reforms to the water planning and management frameworks for the water sector and embracing new and innovative methods of service delivery and knowledge sharing.

Framework reforms will contribute to the sustainable management of our finite water supplies under pressures of drought, climate change and rapid population growth, as well as provide robust, evidence-based planning for water supply investment decisions.

Victorian desalination plant order

The Minister for Water ordered 15 gigalitres from the Victorian desalination plant in Wonthaggi to secure Melbourne’s water supply for our growing population. This order considered:

  • the current water storage conditions
  • projected water demands
  • future climate conditions
  • risk of system spill
  • the balance between securing supply and keeping bills stable.

Urban water strategy guidelines

Draft urban water strategies were submitted to the department to ensure the documents followed the Urban water strategy guidelines released to urban water corporations in March 2021.

Assessment against the guidelines ensures a coordinated approach to planning for the next 50 years of urban water security across the state while clearly identifying actions over the next 5 years.

All regional urban water strategies have been finalised and submitted to the Minister for Water. The final strategies can be accessed from each respective water corporation’s website.

Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy

Sustainable water strategies are long-term plans required under the Water Act 1989 to secure the water future of Victoria’s regions.

The strategies identify and manage threats to the supply and quality of a region’s water resources and identify ways to improve waterway health.

The Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (CGRSWS) was finalised in response to public and stakeholder feedback and is planned to be released in the second half of 2022.

The CGRSWS outlines priorities for saving water and investing in more manufactured water supplies to meet water needs and to free up river water to return to the environment and Traditional Owners.

Collaborative planning process

Delivered a collaborative planning process with water corporations, Catchment Management Authorities, Victorian Environmental Water Holder, Registered Aboriginal Parties in the region and other government departments to prepare the CGRSWS discussion draft to meet section 22C requirements of the Water Act 1989, including responding to the findings of the 2020 Long-Term Water Resource Assessment for southern Victoria.

Public consultation

Met the requirements of section 22D(e) of the Water Act 1989 by undertaking an 8-week public consultation process on the CGRSWS discussion draft. Due to COVID restrictions, the community were provided with a myriad of ways to engage online, including community information sessions, webinars, a virtual consultation room and tailored forums with environmental groups and irrigators. There was a lot of interest from the community, with well over 2,000 people visiting the engagement sites, 225 people responding to a short survey and 58 detailed submissions.

Met the requirements of section 22F of the Water Act 1989, with an independent panel considering feedback provided through public consultation and reporting to the Minister.

Incorporated feedback received from stakeholders and the community during public consultation into the final Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy.

Mitigating the risks of small dams

This project will improve the long-term resilience and safety of Local Government Authority (LGA) owned and managed small dams and make the recreational areas and public amenities safer for the community to enjoy.

It will also provide the Victorian Government with a level of assurance that these structures are managed according to current standards and practices, improving emergency preparedness and response and thereby reducing the burden on emergency agencies. The project will also address the cost of living pressures as it will reduce the risk of future liability of LGA’s in relation to their dams, and, therefore, any future impacts to ratepayers.

The current  funded program will provide grant funding as contributions to Central Goldfields Shire Council, Frankston City Council and Latrobe City Council to upgrade Goldfields dam, Baxter Park dam and Traralgon Railway Reserve Large dam projects.

  • All 3 projects commenced early this year and will be completed on 30 June 2024.
  • All 3 LGA’s have engaged dam consultants for the projects.
  • Approximately 40% project work has been completed.

Murray-Darling Basin inter-jurisdictional strategy and negotiations and MER

Victoria is implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and monitoring the outcomes achieved so far.

Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council did not meet in 2021-22 and priority issues were progressed as far as possible through departmental level committees , particularly Basin Officials Committee.

Met our monitoring and reporting obligations

In this year of environmental contribution 5 funding, Victoria met all our monitoring and reporting obligations.

Demonstrated that we are continuing to meet our commitments under the Plan.

New legislation

The Victorian government collaborated on new legislation which was developed and progressed through the Commonwealth Parliament to establish a new compliance office and increase transparency and community confidence in the Basin and is working with other Basin governments to establish the operating arrangements for this office.

Basin plan

Victoria worked with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and other Basin Governments on the release of the 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation and is collaborating to develop the Framework for the 2025 Evaluation.

Streamlined reporting on Basin Plan implementation includes Schedule 12 Water Resource Plan (WRP) compliance in 2020-21, the first full year of WRPs operating in Victoria.

WCG drought response coordination

The project Evaluation of DELWP drought response (2018-2021) contributes to state’s strategic planning and management framework for the water sector to continue to meet the ongoing challenges of climate change.

The project seeks to improve drought preparedness and response across the sector by reviewing the DELWP/WCG drought response package (2018-2021) against WCG Drought Framework principles. This work is essential to identify necessary refinements in the department's preparedness and response policy to future droughts.

In year one of environmental contribution 5 (EC5) the DELWP Drought Response (2018-21), a comprehensive program evaluation was successfully delivered.

Key evaluation findings will be implemented and include:

  • The evaluation confirmed the Department’s drought response was delivered in alignment to the WCG Drought Preparedness and Response Framework and was found to be operating quite efficiently despite the lack of documented procedures and processes in place with the culture and collaborative nature of staff at the Department being the key driver to this success.
  • Develop a drought escalation process flow chart to provide staff with a step-by-step guide on how to deliver the Drought Programs.
  • Create a central repository for information related to drought escalation periods to increase the efficiency of knowledge transfer to new staff, utilise learnings from previous drought escalation periods and support program evaluations for continuous improvement.
  • Have a resource dedicated to implementing the recommendations from evaluations of drought escalation periods and to review readiness of activities and processes each quarter during non-drought periods.

Oversight of Water for Victoria and Environmental Contribution

The objective of this project is to continue the delivery of Water for Victoria Action 10.13 by overseeing the implementation of initiatives funded by the Environmental Contribution, tracking delivery of Water for Victoria and monitoring, evaluating and reporting on progress and achievements.

The project continues to provide oversight of the Environmental Contribution and delivery of Water for Victoria through:

  • Supporting effective governance of EC funded initiatives through the EC Project Control Board.
  • Coordinating development of business cases, project implementation plans and evaluation plans for EC funded initiatives, to support project delivery and enable effective and transparent monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.
  • Providing timely and transparent reporting on project expenditure and outcomes to the Victorian community, through EC initiative progress reporting, and publication of Water for Victoria Action Status Reports.

Page last updated: 08/09/23