Introduction

Government, through Water for Victoria (2016), committed to focus on urban water efficiency to ensure that water efficiency measures are developed and supported by water corporations and their communities. Making Victorians Water Wise complements this focus and builds on actions taken by government, water corporations and by individuals over the past four years to ensure that Victoria has secure water supplies and to defer any new and more expensive water supply options as long as possible.

It delivers on the commitment in Water for Victoria Action 5.3 to reinvigorate investment into urban water efficiency programs across Victoria, reactivating Target 155 in Melbourne and Target Your Water Use (TYWU) initiatives for regional Victorians.

It also supports the commitment to expand the government’s work on providing a digital monitoring platform to new sectors and more schools. Ensuring Victoria is using existing water as efficiently as possible is a critical back drop and foundational element of how we meet long term security of supply.

The Making Victorians Waterwise (Water Efficiency) Program will deliver the following programs through water corporations:

  • Schools Water Efficiency Program - SWEP;
  • Community Housing Retrofit Program - CHRP; and
  • Community Rebate Program - CRP.

EC5 Expenditure to date

Program Title (EC5)

2020-21 Expenditure $’000

Making Victorians water wise: Investing in communities for a secure water future

3,168

Summary of progress in Year 1 of EC5

Target 155 and Target Your Water Use

  • Victoria’s 15 urban water corporations are delivering behaviour change programs encouraging Victorians to use water wisely. In Melbourne, the Target 155 program encourages the per person use of water to be no more than 155 litres per day, while, in regional Victoria, the TYWU program encourages water wise behaviours tailored to local contexts.

Schools Water Efficiency Program and VicFacilities

  • Victorian schools in the SWEP are tracking their water use online and detecting leaks. The program also helps educate students on efficient water use.  A review of the SWEP found that over a quarter of the water used by schools (28 per cent) is due to leaks and unnecessary usage.
  • By June 2021, over 1,277 Victorian schools (over 50 per cent of all Victorian schools) had signed up to SWEP.  The program saved a total of 9.9 GL or 1.5 GL per year, which would have cost over $31.5 million in water and wastewater charges.
  • Between October 2016 and June 2021, the VicFacilities monitoring trial — a modified version of the SWEP program aimed at commercial properties, monitored 30 Victorian Government and 12 water corporation sites. The trial helped government sites to save over 92.4 million litres of water and reduce water bills by $267,855.  VicFacilities is continuing to monitor these 30 sites and has been extended to trial council use.  The Council of Greater Shepparton, within days of joining the program, identified leaks on five of its ten sites.

Community Rebate and Housing Retrofit programs

Victorian urban water corporations deliver the Victorian Community Rebate and Community Housing Retrofit Programs.

The CRP offers rebates to customers in vulnerable and hardship situations to help reduce their water consumption and water bills. This is done by improving the water efficiency of appliances and fixing leaks around the property. The program is run by all Victorian water corporations who send a qualified plumber to undertake a water audit and retrofit.

The CHRP assists not-for-profit emergency and community housing organisations to complete substantial water efficiency upgrades. It is currently operating across four water corporation regions - Central Highlands Water, Lower Murray Water, Yarra Valley Water and Barwon Water.

At the end of June 2021:

  • The Community RP and CHRP had assisted a cumulative total of 14,544 vulnerable and hardship customers across Victoria and saved 0.36 GL of water per year. This equates to approximately $1.3 million saved in water and wastewater bills annually, or an average water bill saving of $89 per customer.  Both programs are on track to meet the government’s delivery targets.
  • An independent evaluation by Clear Horizon in 2019 found that water efficiency rebates and retrofits for vulnerable and hardship customers not only led to water savings and reduced bills, but 59% of recipients reported changing their behaviour to save water.  It found that water efficiency tips provided by plumbers directly to participants on site and additional education provided by water corporations contributed to this. Targeted programs allow for more tailored and relevant interactions to empower behaviour change and, in the case of rebates for vulnerable and hardship customers, has additional social and wellbeing benefits for a sector of the community that would otherwise not be able to afford upgrades and contribute to water conservation.

Page last updated: 16/09/21