Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the draft Water Cycle Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan. Consultation has now closed. Between 9 July and 6 August 2021, the draft Plan was available for public consultation via EngageVictoria. Feedback from the public consultation will help shape the Water Cycle Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan.

The water cycle produces some of our most basic needs - water for drinking, growing food, supporting diverse ecosystems, and providing sites of recreational and cultural significance.

The Water Cycle Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022–2026 (Water Cycle AAP) is a five-year action plan that focuses on the impact of climate change on Victoria’s water cycle system. It aims to build a strong foundation for a climate-resilient Victoria.  It is one of seven systems developing plans under the Climate Change Act 2017. The other six systems are the built environment, education and training, health and human services, natural environment, primary production and transport.

The draft plan proposes a package of 19 ambitious yet realistic actions to be delivered over the next five years. These actions contribute towards long term outcomes of:

  • diverse water supplies
  • resilient infrastructure and natural assets
  • operational resilience and efficiency
  • an engaged community
  • an orderly transition under climate change.

The Water Cycle AAP will be finalised in late 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

The impacts of climate change are being felt across the water cycle system and are likely to increase in frequency and severity. By 2050, impacts could include:

  • less water available to use and trade, increasing water market prices
  • damage to infrastructure needed for essential water and wastewater services
  • lower stream flows and reduced water quality
  • restrictions on water being used for recreation and private gardens
  • overwhelmed drainage, increasing the chance of flash flooding and sewer spills
  • peaks in water demand during heat waves that may exceed the capacity of the water grid to supply

Adapting to the impacts of climate change will reduce current and future risks, build social and economic resilience, and ensure Victoria is best placed to take advantage of opportunities across the water cycle.

Water Supply - the collection, storage, treatment, delivery, and supply of water, including recycled water.

Sewerage - wastewater services, including the collection, treatment and disposal through sewer systems and treatment plants.

Drainage - drainage services including the operation of drainage systems.

Flood management - flood management services including the operation and maintenance of infrastructure to mitigate floods.

The Water Cycle Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (Water Cycle AAP) is the Victorian Government’s climate change adaptation action plan for the water cycle system. It is one of seven system-based plans, building a strong foundation for a climate-resilient Victoria long term. Under the Climate Change Act 2017 the plan must contain, at a minimum:

  • a statement of climate adaptation roles and responsibilities across the water cycle system;
  • an assessment of how existing water policies and programs address the adaptation priorities in Victoria’s Climate Change Strategy
  • actions over the next five years to address gaps or shortcomings identified in the assessment

A Water Cycle AAP will be developed every five years until 2050 so government can adjust its adaptation efforts based on the latest climate information available, previous learnings, and opportunities that may arise over time.

The draft Water Cycle AAP proposes a package of 19 ambitious yet realistic actions over the next five years. These actions range from supporting decision makers, reviewing policies to reduce adaptation barriers, improving stakeholder collaboration to tackle complex problems, and laying the foundations for transformational change across the community. With water corporations making up roughly one-quarter of the Victorian Government’s greenhouse gas emissions annually, actions also focus on harnessing opportunities to reduce water-related emissions that directly contribute to the climate change problem. This helps Victoria’s water sector transition to a low carbon economy of the future.

Actions proposed in the Water Cycle AAP represent potential adaptation work within the system and may evolve based on consultation feedback and knowledge gained in the early years of AAP implementation, as well as budget processes over the five-year life of the AAP.

Seven system-based adaptation action plans are being prepared in total. These climate change adaptation action plans are one of the key mechanisms for the Victorian Government to deliver on its five-year adaptation priorities outlined in the broader Climate Change Strategy. The six other AAP systems are: the built environmenteducation and traininghealth and human servicesnatural environmentprimary production and transport. Differences between the AAPs reflect their unique climate change vulnerabilities, stakeholder needs and roles for government.

Six community-led regional adaptation strategies are also being prepared to complement the state-wide AAPs. These focus on the distinct climate change impacts and priorities of each region.

Many water sector organisations, such as water corporations and catchment management authorities, prepare and deliver regional climate change related plans relevant to their sectors, including adaptation, carbon sequestration and mitigation activities for catchment resilience.

The Water Cycle AAP is currently open for public consultation on the Engage Victoria website. There is a short survey available for you to have your say. Public consultation closes 25 July 2021.

For privacy reasons, contact details will not be collected so you won’t receive an individual response to your feedback. A feedback summary will be published on the Engage Victoria website outlining what feedback was received and how this has been incorporated into the final Water Cycle AAP.

There is an opportunity to comment on areas that don’t necessarily fit within the scope of an AAP system on the central AAP Engage Victoria page.

The Water Cycle AAP will be finalised in late 2021. Actions are expected to be delivered until 2025 before the next iteration of the Water Cycle AAP is released in 2026.

Victoria’s Climate Change Strategy is a roadmap to net-zero emissions and a climate resilient Victoria by 2050. The strategy includes the state’s interim emissions reduction targets, a suite of actions to reduce emissions, and the Victorian Government’s adaptation priorities for the next five years. The strategy’s adaptation priorities will be delivered in part through system-based adaptation action plans like the Water Cycle AAP. The strategy’s five-year adaptation priorities are shown below:

 Key enablers  Capacity building and partnerships:  Victorian Government, businesses and communities will work together towards a shared vision for adaptation. Knowledge will be widely shared and the state will partner with others to support learning and change across the state.  Governance and strategic planning: The state’s governance arrangements will support decision making in the face of future challenges and uncertainty, enable collaboration and promote learning and experimentation.  Sustainable adaptation finance: Victoria’s state and local governments and the private sector will work together to enable access to adaptation finance and ensure climate change risks are accounted for in financial decisions, products and services.  Leadership and innovation: The Victorian Government will lead and collaborate with leaders and innovators across communities, industries and other governments to achieve transformational adaptation.  Priority focus areas:   Address current climate change impacts: -Support place-based adaptation including effective and inclusive community participation and empowerment, with special emphasis on vulnerable communities. - Embed climate change adaptation into emergency management  and disaster preparedness, response and recovery, particularly to protect the most vulnerable. - Adopt best-practice climate risk management across all portfolios, including all funded agencies and service operations. - Address gaps in insurance coverage for public assets and key infrastructure at risk from climate change impacts. - Transparently communicate to all Victorians the challenges, opportunities and trade-offs required under climate change.  Reduce barriers to adaptation: - Establish a climate change adaptation capacity building  program, including provision of fit-for-purpose climate science information, knowledge brokering and collaborative networks. -Monitor, evaluate, report and improve climate change adaptation by developing and implementing a long-term framework based on state-wide risk assessments. - Ensure relevant legislation, standards and codes support the use of best available climate change data and adaptive planning principles as part of decision making, particularly as it relates to infrastructure, development and land use changes. - Integrate climate change risk management into investment  decisions, particularly for large and long-lived investments. - Demonstrate the benefits and business case for climate change adaptation action. - Drive adaptation leadership across government and the community, including empowering youth.  Lay the foundations for transformational adaptation: - Partner with Traditional Owners, Registered Aboriginal Parties  and other Aboriginal communities to ensure their cultural, ecological and economic values and expertise are integrated into climate change adaptation planning. - Incorporate climate change considerations into education, training and re-skilling of the workforce. - Identify the transformational changes needed and develop effective change management strategies, ensuring all voices are heard. -Support the development of new and innovative climate change adaptation finance models. - Lead innovative trials and pilot projects that test transformational adaptation approaches, learning from them to inform future practice.

Page last updated: 12/08/21