Water policy, strategy and governance

Two key programs, Water for Victoria and Plan Melbourne 2017-2050, guide the direction of integrated water management in Victoria, and require close collaboration with local government.


Water for Victoria

Water for Victoria is a plan for a future with less water as Victoria responds to the impact of climate change and a growing population.

The actions set out in the plan require collaboration with local government to use diverse water sources to protect public spaces.


Plan Melbourne 2017-2050

Plan Melbourne will guide the growth of our city for the next 35 years.

The plan requires collaboration with local government to implement actions relating to urban greening, mapping vegetation, urban cooling and stormwater reform.  


Metropolitan Melbourne's integrated water management stakeholders


Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Role & Responsibility

Develops, implements and updates high-level government strategies and supporting policies and legislation.

Environmental Protection Agency

Sets and enforces environmental regulations.

Melbourne Water

Manages drainage pipes and water assets, including green infrastructure such as wetlands, that receive water from catchments generally larger than 60 hectares

Local Government

Plans and manages stormwater pipes and small-scale green infrastructure (e.g. raingardens) that receive water from catchments generally smaller than 60 hectares.

Ensures that new developments are in accordance with regulations.

Water retailers

Provide water supply, recycled water, sewage and trade waste disposal services.


Designs and builds drainage systems in accordance with regulations, which in some situations includes stormwater treatment and retention through green infrastructures

Landowners and residents

Responsible for ensuring that rainfall is appropriately directed to an allocated point of discharge to the street, so that their stormwater runoff does not affect other properties.

Strategic activities and projects

A number of related strategic activities and projects are also underway, which support a collaborative approach to integrated water management. 

An overview of the common elements of urban water strategic by City West Water, South East Water, Yarra Valley Water and the Melbourne water system by Melbourne Water. Outlines how water corporations are preparing to meet the challenges of a growing city in a changing climate.

Read it here

The Yarra Strategic Plan is being led by Melbourne Water. It is designed to align and coordinate the various organisations, plans, policies and legislation that manage the Yarra River corridor. It was outlined in the Yarra Action Plan, which was informed by the Yarra Ministerial Advisory Committee. During the development of this strategic plan, local governments adjacent to the Yarra River have the opportunity to participate in the development of a 50 year community vision for the Yarra. The first phase of engagement (September to November 2017) focused on gathering community input into the development of the 50-year vision, which will become the cornerstone of the Yarra Strategic Plan. The next phase of community engagement will commence in April 2018.

Read more about its development and how you can get involved here.

Melbourne Water’s Healthy Waterways Strategy (HWS) sets the long term strategy for protecting and improving the health of Melbourne’s waterways. Core components of the current HWS are the key values that waterways support, and the portfolio of management options available to Melbourne Water. The HWS is currently being refreshed, with a focus on community engagement to determine what the community values most, and what managed options should be prioritised. Local governments have been involved in a variety of workshops in each of Melbourne’s catchments to help inform the HWS refresh.

Read more about the strategy refresh and how you can get involved here

The Melbourne Sewerage Strategy is a 50 year strategy which is being developed collaboratively between Melbourne Water, Yarra Valley Water, City West Water, South East Water, and Western Water. The Strategy will provide the future direction for Melbourne’s sewerage system, ensuring it continues to protect public health and the environment along with defining its role in supporting Melbourne as a Water Sensitive City. The strategy is currently being developed and local councils and other agencies may wish to contribute to the strategy through our engagement process in early 2018.

Melbourne Water's urban cooling program aims to build capacity in urban cooling by engaging with staff, customers and partners on shading and cooling solutions to embed resilience initiatives into business-as-usual operations.

The program is working towards achieving a greener, cooler and thriving Melbourne region that is resilient to the shocks and stresses over the long-term. Over the short term, Melbourne Water has adopted a target to invest directly in improving 30 ha of green spaces for shade and cooling across Melbourne by 2021. To deliver this target, a pilot program has been established to increase canopy cover or irrigation to provide a cooling benefit where it is needed most. While currently focused on Melbourne Water land, the program’s wider partnership opportunities are currently being explored.

There is significant potential for local government to engage with this program. A series of workshops have already been conducted. More engagement will occur in the future but is yet to be determined.

A flagship action within the Resilient Melbourne strategy is the development of a Metropolitan Urban Forest Strategy to extend and link existing urban greening, reforestation and nature conservation initiatives across Melbourne, improve wellbeing and reduce exposure to acute shocks such as heatwaves and flooding. The Nature Conservancy, a global platform partner with 100 Resilient Cities, is leading the development of the Strategy in collaboration with metropolitan Melbourne’s 32 councils and a variety of other stakeholders, including water utilities and state government agencies. The objective of the Strategy is to enable strong natural assets and ecosystems alongside a growing population.

The strategy will map the current state of urban vegetation and analyse its relationship to ecosystem services and elements of urban biodiversity within the context of urban growth and densification. This analysis will be used to develop recommendations about policy, partnerships, financing, implementation and maintenance.

Local government participation is required for a series of workshops to collect available data, determine useful outputs of the strategy, and review findings.

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