What we will do

  • Achieve net-zero emissions in the water sector by 2050;
  • Understand and apply climate science to water management;
  • Lead climate change adaptation across Victoria’s water sector.

Water for Victoria is setting a long-term plan to prepare for and respond to climate change.

Over recent decades Victoria’s climate has become drier and warmer. The recent Millennium Drought was the worst drought on record in south-east Australia. Streamflows dropped to record lows and many communities faced severe water restrictions.

By 2065, streamflows in some catchments could reduce by around 50 per cent. This would have serious consequences for everyone: households, industry, agriculture, recreation, cultural values, liveability, waterway health, and our environment.

Climate change will also bring more extreme events including drought, floods, and heatwaves. These can increase human and environmental demand for water, impact on productivity and health, and also threaten water infrastructure. Sea levels will rise which may erode, damage or flood low-lying infrastructure and reduce the effectiveness of drainage infrastructure, leading to more severe flooding.

We must act now, building on the good work done to get Victoria through the Millennium Drought, to reduce the impact and costs of later responses.

The Victorian Government’s investment in climate and water resources research is an important part of informing the sector’s long-term planning and climate change adaptation decisions. Partnerships will be built with communities, local government, Traditional Owners, research institutions, and the water sector to share knowledge and apply climate change research to policy, planning and practice.

To help Victoria’s water sector plan for the future impacts of climate change on water supplies, DELWP has developed a set of Guidelines for Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Water Supplies in Victoria. (PDF, 10.1 MB) They equip the sector with the most up-to-date understanding of climate change and associated risks to water resources

DELWP is now developing a pilot Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan for the Victorian water sector, which will ensure water-related climate change adaptation is well integrated into all authorities, regions and communities across the state.

A net-zero emissions water sector

Water for Victoria sets the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The four metropolitan water corporations will explore an early path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.

The water sector has already reduced its emissions significantly by investing in more efficient equipment, capturing biogas for energy generation, investing in renewable energy generation and purchasing renewable energy and carbon offsets.

The water sector is the largest government emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. The water sector contributes almost a quarter (24%) of the government’s greenhouse emissions, followed by the rail (19%) and healthcare sectors (18%). In 2017, Victoria’s 19 water corporations will pledge to Government a pathway to achieve zero-net emissions by 2050.

Millennium Drought Report

Managing extreme water shortages in Victoria – Lessons from the Millennium Drought