Introduction

The “Building a Sustainable Water Sector” EC5 initiative will play an important role in putting in place long term strategic plans and processes to ensure water security and improved resilience of the water sector for Victoria’s future.

This initiative is expected to deliver key actions in Water for Victoria, including legislative and policy reforms to improve:

  • strategic water planning and management;
  • sustainability and resilience of Victoria’s water sector;
  • and improved reporting, monitoring and evaluation of EC investments to provide robust, evidence-based planning for water supply investment decisions and to address the impacts of water extraction on the environment and communities.

EC5 Expenditure to date

Program Title (EC5)

2020-21 Expenditure $’000

Building a sustainable water sector

6,120

Long-term Water Security

The objective of this project is to promote the sustainable management of water by developing a long-term, coordinated approach for improving water security across Victoria, including reforms to the water planning and management frameworks for the water sector and embracing new and innovative methods of service delivery and knowledge sharing.

Framework reforms will contribute to the sustainable management of our finite water supplies under pressures of drought, climate change and rapid population growth as well as providing robust, evidence-based planning for water supply investment decisions. Summary of progress in Year 1 of EC5:

The Acting Minister for Water ordered 125 gigalitres from the Victorian Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi to secure Melbourne’s water supply for our growing population. This order considered current water storage conditions, projected water demands, future climate conditions, risk of system spill and the balance between securing supply and keeping bills stable.

The Urban Water Strategy Guidelines were released to urban water corporations to ensure a coordinated approach to planning for the next 50 years of urban water supply across the state. Work has also begun on a clear assessment framework that will demonstrate how each strategy will be assessed against the Guidelines. Water corporations have begun consultation with the communities they supply and are on track to deliver their strategies in year 2 of the tranche.

Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy

Sustainable water strategies are long-term plans required under the Water Act 1989 to secure the water future of Victoria’s regions. The strategies identify and manage threats to the supply and quality of a region’s water resources and identify ways to improve waterway health.

The Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (CGRSWS) is under development and is planned to be released in 2022. The planning process of the SWSs involves the community and cuts across the boundaries of Water Corporations, Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs), Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) and other key stakeholders allowing decisions to be made that are beyond the scale of individual organisations.

Summary of progress in Year 1 of EC5:
  • Established and delivered a collaborative planning process with water corporations, CMAs, Victorian Environmental Water Holder RAPs in the region and other government departments to develop content for the draft CGRSWS to meet section 22C (1) of the Water Act 1989 and 22C(2) of the Water Act 1989 being to take into account any Long Term Water Resource Assessment.
  • Convened a Consultative Committee and an Independent Panel to meet the requirements of 22F of the Water Act 1989.
  • Undertook preliminary engagement with stakeholders and community (via round table discussions with community groups, an Engage Victoria survey and a peak body group discussion) to inform the discussion draft of the CGRSWS.
  • Developed a discussion draft of the CGRSWS for public consultation.

Mitigating the risks of small dams

This project will improve the long-term resilience and safety of Local Government Authority (LGA) owned and managed small dams and make the recreational areas and public amenities safer for community to enjoy. It will also provide the Victorian Government with a level of assurance that these structures are managed according to current standard and practices, improving emergency preparedness and response and thereby reducing the burden on emergency agencies. The project will also address cost of living pressures as it will reduce the risk of future liability of LGA’s in relation to their dams, and therefore, any future impacts to rate payers.

The current EC5 funded program will provide grant funding as contributions to Central Goldfields Shire Council, Frankston City Council and Latrobe City Council to upgrade Goldfields dam, Baxter Park dam and Traralgon Railway Reserve Large dam projects. All three projects commenced early this year and will be completed on the 30 June 2024.  Approximately 25% project work has been completed.

Murray-Darling Basin Inter-jurisdictional strategy and negotiations and MER

Victoria is implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and monitoring the outcomes achieved so far. In this year of EC5 funding, Victoria met all of our monitoring and reporting obligations, and demonstrated that we are continuing to meet our commitments under the Plan. The Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council met twice, and progressed priority discussions including addressing capacity and delivery risks in the River Murray system. The Victorian government collaborated on new legislation which was developed and progressed through the Commonwealth Parliament to establish a new compliance office and increase transparency and community confidence in the Basin. Victoria worked with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and other Basin Governments on the release of the 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation and is collaborating to develop the Framework for the 2025 Evaluation. Streamlined reporting on Basin Plan implementation includes Schedule 12 Water Resource Plan (WRP) compliance in 2020-21, the first full year of WRPs operating in Victoria.

WCG Drought Response Coordination

The project ‘Evaluation of DELWP Drought Response (2018-2021)’contributes to State’s strategic planning and management framework for the water sector to continue to meet the ongoing challenges of climate change. The project seeks to improve drought preparedness and response across the sector through the review of DELWP/WCG drought response package (2018-2021) against WCG Drought Framework principles. This work is essential to identify necessary refinements in DELWP’s preparedness and response policy to future droughts.

In Year 1 of EC5 the DELWP Drought Response (2018-21), a comprehensive program evaluation was successfully delivered. Key evaluation findings will be implemented and include:

  • The evaluation confirmed the Department’s drought response was delivered in alignment to the WCG Drought Preparedness and Response Framework and was found to be operating quite efficiently despite the lack of documented procedures and processes in place; with the culture and collaborative nature of staff at the Department being the key driver to this success.
  • Develop a drought escalation process flow chart to provide staff with a step by step guide on how to deliver the Drought Programs.
  • Create a central repository for information related to drought escalation periods to increase the efficiency of knowledge transfer to new staff, utilise learnings from previous drought escalation periods and support program evaluations for continuous improvement.
  • Have a resource dedicated to implementing the recommendations from evaluations of drought escalation periods and to review readiness of activities and processes each quarter during non-drought periods.

Oversight of Water for Victoria and Environmental Contribution

The objective of this project is to continue delivery of Water for Victoria Action 10.13 by overseeing  the implementation of initiatives funded by the Environmental Contribution, tracking delivery of Water for Victoria; and monitoring, evaluating and reporting on progress and achievements.

Summary of progress in Year 1 of EC5:

The project continues to provide oversight of the Environmental Contribution and delivery of Water for Victoria through:

  • Supporting effective governance of EC funded initiatives through the EC Project Control Board.
  • Coordinating development of business cases, project implementation plans and evaluation plans for EC funded initiatives, to support project delivery and enable effective and transparent monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.
  • Providing timely and transparent reporting on project expenditure and outcomes to the Victorian community, through EC initiative progress reporting [link to EC5 progress reports top level page], and publication of Water for Victoria Action Status Reports.

Page last updated: 16/09/21