Introduction

The ‘Enhancing urban water security, iconic urban waterways and recreational values of water’ initiative is contributing to offsetting the economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of urbanisation, population growth and climate change on declining urban water supplies, our recreational water environs and iconic urban waterways. By enhancing urban water security, reducing the impacts of urban water discharges and better managing our recreational and iconic urban waterways, this work will contribute to cooler, greener cities and towns, affordable, accessible water, and healthier water environments for our communities to use and enjoy.

EC5 Expenditure to date

Program Title (EC5) 2020-21 Expenditure
$'000
Enhancing urban water security, iconic urban waterways and recreational water 17,257

Summary of progress in Year 1 of EC5:

Iconic Urban Waterways Program

The iconic urban waterways of Victoria include the Birrarung (Yarra River), the Waterways of the West and the Rivers of the Barwon. This initiative is implementing Action 3.1 in Chapter 3 of Water for Victoria. It is fulfilling the government's commitment to improve planning arrangements for urban waterways, and protect and improve the health of their catchments now and into the future.

During the first year of EC5 the statutory endorsement process for the Yarra Strategic Plan commenced; seeking endorsement for the plan from all 15 state and local agencies, six Committees of Management and Wurundjeri Woi wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. The Yarra Strategic Plan will be the first of its kind.  It is bicultural in aspiration and takes an integrated approach across portfolios, agencies and landscape

Waterways of the West and Rivers of the Barwon (Barre Warre Yalluk) Action Plans have been drafted in response to the recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Committees for government consideration.

The Action Plans will include a range of immediate actions and longer-term actions. They will build on an existing policy base that emphasises the importance of liveable cities, of protecting waterways and of enhancing their associated parklands, as well as the importance of embedding Traditional Owners and their values, knowledge and culture in decision-making.

The Action Plans will include steps to better protect the waterways and their parklands so that these community assets will continue to be valued and enjoyed for years to come. During the first year of EC5, project funding has also been allocated to ensure agencies are ready to implement the short-term actions.

The Iconic Urban Waterways Program has also provided resourcing and support for partnership with the region’s Traditional Owner groups to ensure that their voices and aspirations are heard in planning for these Iconic Urban Waterways.

Integrated Water Management (IWM)

The Integrated Water Management Program was established by the Victorian Government in 2017 to promote collaborative planning and management of water, land and related services to maximise economic, social and ecological benefits to all Victorians. The IWM program is delivering on Chapter 5 of Water for Victoria (Actions 5.7 and 5.8), which detail how community values and local opportunities are represented in planning as IWM is put into practice.

During the first year of EC5, the program is overseeing a package of nine IWM capital works projects across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria valued at $10.68 million, as well as the Werribee Zoo recycled water initiative valued at $2.0 million. State Government co-investment for these capital works was derived solely from the Victorian Government’s $2.7 billion COVID-19 economic stimulus package which will be completed in the second year of EC5.

The IWM program initiated a further seven distinct projects to support the development of business cases, technical investigations and IWM partnerships to enable improved use of all sources of water in agricultural regions, and regional and urban growth area design and development. This work supports the establishment of an IWM grants program scheduled to commence in EC5’s second year.

The program has continued to strengthen partnerships, capacity building and collaboration with local government, Traditional Owners, urban planning partners and the water sector. It delivered 16 IWM Forums (6 metro, 10 regional) and a further 17 (5 metro, 12 regional) practitioner workshops, across Victoria.

Five Catchment Scale IWM Plans for Greater Metropolitan Melbourne were completed during this time, with performance targets developed in collaboration with IWM Forum partners following a robust, deliberative process. The Plans and targets will enable Forum partner organisations to progress water-related actions aligned to seven strategic outcomes for IWM, as well as seize investment opportunities across organisational boundaries.

Work supported through the IWM program’s first EC5 year has also complemented the development of the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (SWS). A key area of the program’s focus in this strategy was enhancing the use of stormwater, recycled water and rainwater to support growing cities, towns and agricultural regions while mitigating harmful discharges to the environment. Significant policy work to support the integration of water-related liveability outcomes in land use planning decisions has resulted from this work and will continue in subsequent EC5 years.

Recycled Water and Stormwater Policy

The Recycled Water and Stormwater Policy program is delivering on Chapter 5 of Water for Victoria (actions 5.1 and 5.5). These actions are fulfilling the government’s commitment to use diverse water sources to achieve secure water supplies, and to improve stormwater management for greener environments and healthier waterways.

In the first year of EC5 the program has led detailed work to incorporate opportunities to make the best use of all sources of water, into the draft Central and Gippsland SWS. .  
Several projects were advanced during the period to facilitate safe and suitable use of recycled water. The program led and completed the first phase of a whole of government review and update of Victoria’s recycled water guidelines. The new Victorian Guideline for Water Recycling streamlines and clarifies approval and reporting processes for defined recycled water schemes.

The program has funded and is working closely with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)and other key stakeholders on two key projects as part of a second phase review of the recycled water guidance, which is focusing on strengthening the underlying science and technical aspects of the guidance. The first is an EPA sampling program to gain a baseline understanding and fill knowledge gaps in relation to emerging contaminants in recycled water. Sampling at 30 sites across Victoria has concluded, and the results will facilitate a science-driven and preventative-based approach to managing any potential risks. The second project is a review and update of EPA’s guidelines for wastewater irrigation, which will provide a more contemporary resource for proponents of recycled water irrigation schemes and irrigators.

The program made progress on a number of stormwater and rainwater initiatives:

  • We have completed a cost-benefit analysis and are working on a Regulatory Impact Statement to potentially extend the requirements for rainwater tank installation to a wider range of developments, with a view to include these changes in the 2022 National Construction Code. As part of this work, following stakeholder feedback, we are also considering the options to improve tank functionality and maintenance.  
    The 2018 amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions (VC154) have resulted in a broader range of developments that are required to manage stormwater. As a companion piece to these reforms, we are developing a stormwater offsets framework to guide and assist councils to adopt a stormwater offsets scheme in cases where onsite treatment of stormwater is not feasible. In 2021, we published an Online Navigator Tool Resource Portal, which provides step-by-step guidance for planning system users to ensure their sub-division or buildings and works development meets Victoria’s stormwater planning requirements.  
    The Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements project has explored options to clarify roles and responsibilities for a range of stormwater assets and services between Melbourne Water and 38 councils in the Port Phillip and Westernport catchments. We have also developed case studies of stormwater harvesting schemes that will be used to assess whether improvements can be made to the licensing and entitlement framework to better facilitate stormwater harvesting.

Page last updated: 16/09/21