Urban water strategies (UWSs) are the key planning tool in delivering safe and sustainable water supplies for our cities and towns. These strategies include plans for securing water supplies over the following 50 years given uncertainty with population, climate change and climate variability. UWSs also incorporate Drought Preparedness Plans which detail how any future water shortages will be managed.

The aim of UWSs is to support the development of resilient and liveable communities while balancing social, environmental and economic costs and benefits across the water cycle.


UWSs identify the best mix of actions to provide water and sewerage services in our towns and cities now and into the future. To do this UWSs:

  • have a long-term outlook of 50 years
  • consider the total water cycle (consistent with the principles of integrated urban water management)
  • support the development of resilient and liveable communities
  • balance social, environmental and economic costs and benefits
  • take account of the consequences and uncertainty associated with population changes, climate change and variability and other risks.

UWSs are key mechanisms to consider and drive localised delivery of global, national, regional and state-wide processes. This includes policy directions outlined in Water for Victoria, actions from Sustainable Water Strategies, relevant actions from Strategic Direction Statements as part of Integrated Water Management Planning, Regional Waterway Strategies and commitments to delivery of the UNs Sustainable Development Goals.

UWSs are delivered by Victoria’s Urban Water Corporations for their service areas under their Statement of Obligations. They are renewed every 5 years.

The next round of Urban Water Strategies are due for completion in March 2022.


Water is a public resource central to the health and wellbeing of Victorians. Water powers our industries and the economy, underpins our quality of life and supports our natural environment.

Our water resources are subject to the impacts of climate change, climate variability and extreme events while our changing demographics and economy present challenges in balancing the economic, environmental, cultural and social values of water and ensuring the availability of water resources to meet future needs.

Get involved

UWSs require a high level of community and customer engagement. This can assist water corporations to understand community support for water supply and demand initiatives, their required level of service, willingness to pay to improve system performance and form the evidence base for infrastructure planning and provision including sewerage services. UWSs are also a key input into water corporation pricing submissions.

Across the state all urban water corporations are currently renewing their UWS.

Greater Melbourne UWS

In Melbourne the metropolitan water businesses are jointly developing the five-year review of the Urban Water Strategy and the Melbourne Water System Strategy.

Melbourne Water (MW), Greater Western Water, (GWW) South East Water (SEW) and Yarra Valley Water (YVW) have agreed to produce a joint strategy known as Water for Life for greater Melbourne to satisfy the requirements to update the existing 2017 strategies. Water for Life is due to be finalised in March 2022 and will reflect the needs of the broader Melbourne system and incorporate the needs of the surrounding regional areas serviced by Barwon Water, Gippsland Water, South Gippsland Water, Southern Rural Water and Westernport Water.

Barwon Water

Barwon Water are currently partnering with the community and regional leaders to design a new water future for our region, through the Water for our Future program. This program will inform the development of the next Urban Water Strategy, due for release in 2022.

Through the Water for our Future program Barwon Water want to draw on the insights, experiences and ideas of people from across our region to create a water future that harnesses the value of water to support liveable and prosperous communities and a healthy environment for years to come.

More information

  • Barwon Water
  • Central Highlands Water
  • Coliban Water
  • East Gippsland Water
  • Gippsland Water
  • Goulburn Valley Water
  • Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water
  • Lower Murray Water
  • Greater Melbourne Urban Water Systems Strategy (GMMUWSS): (Melbourne Water, South East Water, Greater Western Water, Yarra Valley Water)
  • North East Water
  • South Gippsland Water
  • Wannon Water
  • Westernport Water
  • South Gippsland Water, Gippsland Water, Westernport Water, East Gippsland Water are covered by the CGRSWS area. Central Highlands Water and Wannon Water also have some of their supply systems in the CGRSWS area. You can get more detail on the status of your urban Water Corporation’s by following the links below:

  • Find out how Urban Water Strategies integrate with Sustainable Water Strategies
  • Download the comprehensive set of Guidelines water corporations are using to prepare their Strategies

    Page last updated: 01/07/21