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Securing long-term water supplies

The role of the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (the strategy) is to secure the region’s long-term water supplies to protect:

  • jobs
  • farms
  • ecosystems
  • communities
  • the cultural values of Traditional Owners in the region.

The strategy’s objectives are to:

  • secure the region’s urban water future and safe drinking supplies by using water wiser and more efficiently, as well as increasing the use of manufactured water sources
  • return water to Traditional Owners across the region and strengthen Traditional Owners’ role in water resource planning and management
  • maintain and improve waterway health for environmental and healthy Country outcomes
  • build the resilience of agriculture to a drying and variable climate
  • provide for social and recreational uses and values of waterways.

The main water challenges facing the region

There are 4 major water challenges facing the region:

Victoria is getting drier

Victoria is facing a future with a drying climate. This means less water flowing into rivers, and less water captured in water storages and dams.

Meeting the water demands of a growing population

Our population is growing and so is the demand for more water. More than 6 million people rely on water from the region. The projection is this will increase to over 10 million by 2056.

Working with Traditional Owners in water management planning

We have included Traditional Owners in water planning, management and ownership. This recognises their deep cultural, spiritual, and economic connections to land, water and resources.

Making sure our waterways are healthy

Rivers need more water to keep them healthy. A drying climate will affect the health of the region's:

  • rivers
  • wetland
  • floodplains
  • estuaries.

In turn, the health of Victoria’s rivers also affects the health of Victoria’s:

  • ecology
  • the community
  • the economy

To find out more:

The effect of climate change on water availability webinar

How we will use water more efficiently

Victorians can be proud of their efforts to save water. We can all continue to do our bit to save water in our:

  • cities
  • towns
  • businesses
  • schools
  • farms
  • industries.

There are actions we all can take to achieve significant water savings. The strategy identifies ways to save up to an extra 38 billion litres of water per year. This includes:

  • water efficiency campaigns
  • improved regulations
  • incentives that will help people, businesses and industry all save water.

It also includes reducing Melbourne’s daily water use target to 150 litres per person per day, down from 155 litres.

To find out more:

  • Read Chapter 2 of the strategy - using water efficiently
  • Watch the Webinar - Using water efficiently in our cities and towns

Using water efficiently in our cities and towns webinar

How we will grow our water supplies

The region’s water supplies will need to double in the next 50 years to meet our future water needs.

Building more dams is not the solution because there will not be enough rain to fill them in the future. The region will need to transition from a reliance on river water to using more manufactured water supplies.

We will better match end uses with fit-for-purpose water sources. For example, using recycled water or stormwater to irrigate sporting fields to reduce demand for drinking water supplies.

Manufactured water sources include:

  • recycled water
  • treated stormwater
  • desalinated water.

The strategy lays out a range of options for new manufactured water supplies. These options will be further developed to make sure we have enough options ready if needed.

Options that will progress and be brought online if needed include the use of integrated water management to increase the reuse of:

  • recycled water
  • stormwater.

This will also include:

  • large-scale recycled water supply networks in Greater Melbourne and Geelong
  • smaller recycled water and stormwater reuse projects across the region.

The expansion of desalination capacity will also be an option if necessary.

To find out more:

Diverse water supplies webinar

How we will improve the sharing and managing of water

The strategy identifies ways to improve how we use and share water. This will guarantee we can make the most of all water sources.

Using water more efficiently and using more manufactured water will allow more water to stay in our rivers. This will help native plants and animals that live in our rivers. It will also support:

  • tourism
  • recreation.

It will also create opportunities to return water to Traditional Owners.

Progress on other work includes:

  • Securing Geelong’s water supply and returning water to the Moorabool River by upgrading the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline.
  • Securing Warragul and Drouin’s urban water supply by increasing Gippsland Water’s access to water from Tarago Reservoir.
  • Reallocating water held by the Victorian Government that is no longer needed.
  • Developing a business case to transform water use and sharing in the Werribee system.
  • Reviewing how the use of water and monitoring in small, dry peri-urban catchments.

To find out more:

  • Read Chapter 4 of the strategy - sharing water for multiple benefits

How we will plan for future water supplies

The strategy outlines a new approach to delivering water supplies and strengthens the community’s role in future decisions.

Early investment in readiness activities will:

  • create flexibility
  • smooth out cost impacts.

Early preparedness will also reduce lead times to have new water supplies constructed and water flowing when needed.

Readiness activities will include:

  • feasibility studies
  • business cases.

Progress on other work includes:

  • Publishing and regularly updating a Water Grid Plan to identify, track and progress regionally significant urban water supply options for the inter-connected south-central water grid.
  • Building community knowledge and involvement in water management.

To find out more:

  • Read chapter 9 of the strategy - a new approach to planning and delivering water supplies

The organisations who developed the strategy

Development of the strategy involved:

  • the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), formerly Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
  • Traditional Owner groups
  • the water sector.

The final strategy incorporates feedback received during public consultation on the discussion draft from:

  • farmers
  • environment groups
  • the community
  • key stakeholders.

To find out more:

  • Read appendix B of the strategy - developing the strategy

The public consultation process

Public consultation of the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy Discussion Draft began in April 2021.

The initial discussions with the community helped shape the discussion of the strategy. The release of the draft strategy occurred in October 2021.

You can learn more about the discussion draft by reading:

You can learn more about the consultation and reports by visiting Engage Vic.

What happens after the release of the strategy

DEECA will lead the implementation of the strategy and in partnership with:

  • Traditional Owners
  • the community.

We will give updates in annual reports, along with:

  • a 5-year report
  • mid-point assessment
  • a major review after 10 years.

You can read the implementation plan to learn more.

Page last updated: 08/09/23