The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and partners Melbourne Water (MW) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), collaborated on a review of the Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements (MUSIA).

MW and 38 councils across the Port Philip and Westernport region have legislated responsibilities for drainage (stormwater management) and flood management. Since 1927, these responsibilities have been split according to a convention known as the ‘60-ha rule’. Councils manage stormwater assets and services for catchments smaller than 60.7 ha and MW looks after catchments larger than 60.7 ha.

Over time, the range of urban stormwater management assets and services undertaken by councils and MW has changed. The 60-ha rule was not intended to cover this broad range of assets and services, which has led to difficulty applying the convention today.

In 2021,  we released a discussion paper, which presented three shortlisted options for institutional arrangements:

  • Option 1 - delineation by catchment - improved 60-hectare: would allocate responsibilities based on a formalised and more clearly defined version of the existing convention.
  • Option 2 - delineation by asset size and class: would categorise and allocate responsibilities for assets based on size (e.g. pipe diameter) or class (e.g. retarding basins and wetlands).
  • Option 3 - delineation based on outcomes: would allocate responsibilities based on which organisation is best placed to manage the outcomes delivered by an asset or service.

Closing the Loop Report

The closing the loop report summarises stakeholders’ feedback on the options and the results of the multi-criteria analysis.

Following the stakeholder feedback and the multi-criteria analysis, the Project Steering Committee has agreed in principle that Option 1 is the best way forward. This will include an exception to the strict 60-hectare interpretation for complex integrated water management (IWM) opportunities. The exception will be designed to allow flexibility for IWM projects involving a network of multi-functional assets.

In 2022, further engagement with councils will explore the impact of the improved 60-ha rule, to confirm this as the option to be implemented.

Read the report:

Closing the Loop Report (PDF, 795.7 KB). Accessible version (DOCX, 2.0 MB).

Background: about MUSIA

Vision and guiding principles

An integrated, catchment-based approach that strengthens collaboration and strategic planning of urban stormwater and floodplain management assets and services across management boundaries to achieve the most cost-effective outcomes for the community and environment.

A transparent framework for planning and managing stormwater with clear and agreed roles, responsibilities and funding arrangements for responsible partners.

Consistent, outcome-focused catchment management will increase local and system-wide performance and efficiency and improve agency capabilities to deliver the most effective social, economic and environmental outcomes.

A responsive and adaptable approach that can respond to emerging issues and innovation and supports diverse solutions and circumstances at a local and catchment wide scale.

Scope of MUSIA

  • Identify current roles and responsibilities for stormwater asset and service provision.
  • Consider the impact of emerging issues such as population growth, climate change, increasing development, urban densification, and water quality.
  • Describe the modern, forward-looking service level that the community should expect from the sector in the context of State integrated water management policy directions.
  • Identify the most efficient means and institutional arrangements to deliver that service level to the community.
  • Assess whether the 60ha catchment threshold continues to be a useful delineation and investigate new options that would best decide roles and responsibilities for stormwater management.
  • Address the most effective way of mandating those responsibilities so that there is clear line of sight from obligation to investment planning to on-ground service delivery.
  • Address arrangements for how the most efficient means of delivery of that service level is funded and articulate a transition plan.

MUSIA only includes the management of public assets and services. Private property management is out of scope.

Page last updated: 30/12/21