Integrated Water Management Reform


There are many initiatives underway in Melbourne’s water sector, including policy reform, collaborative water planning, and development and release of strategies and tools.

With so many changes underway, it can be difficult to keep informed and up-to-date. Understanding the objectives of these reforms and initiatives, and how to become involved in decision-making is important for local government stakeholders. 

Find information about key updates below. 


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Review and adjustments

Keep track of policy and legislative reform relating to stormwater management.

State Environment Planning Policy


This legislation is scheduled to sunset in 2018 and statutorily is required to be reviewed every 10 years.


    • Recognition that stormwater as a resource should be retained where it falls

    • Retention of the Urban stormwater : Best Practice Environmental Management Guidelines (1999).as the main regulatory tool for new developments (consistent to the standard within the Victorian Planning Provisions)

    • The need to strengthen obligations for owners / managers of stormwater assets to maintain them for the purpose they were constructed (including a maintenance program) and ensure outfalls meet requirements of receiving waters

    • Retention of the obligation for local government and partners to develop and implement stormwater management plans


Medium potential consequence
Emerging changes may provide additional obligations for stormwater management initiatives including requirements to develop stormwater management plans. Any changes to maintenance requirements could have a direct financial impact on Melbourne Water and councils


Early 2018

March – June 2018: Draft policy released for public consultation through the Engage Victoria website. Submissions closed 19 June 2018.

March – May 2018: Public forums held.

Next steps are being reviewed following the closure of the public consultation process.

2018/2019: Finalisation. New policy will take effect once gazetted. The original SEPP (Waters of Victoria) will remain in effect until that time.

Note: The recent passage of the Environment Protection Act Amendment 2018 will have implications for the SEPPs and will take effect July 2020. The amended EP Act will convert obligations from the SEPPs into Environmental Reference Standards which will set out “attributes of our environment Victorians value and set ambient standards required to protect them.”


The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne Water and the Municipal Association of Victoria have agreed to a process and governance arrangements for the Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements review. The Municipal Association of Victoria is coordinating a local government input and participates on the project working group and steering committee. If councils would like to be involved or informed of outcomes of this review please contact Rosemary Hancock. .



Local Government Act




The Local Government Victoria Directions Paper 2016, Act for the Future, suggested that the role of councils in local drainage, waterways and flood management should be reviewed, and that any required changes be included in the new Local Government Act or the Water Act.


Councils’ drainage authorisations are currently not included in the exposure draft. The Directions Paper indicated that consultation would be undertaken if the powers were to be more prescribed or moved to the Water Act, however this consultation has not occurred. The Municipal Association of Victoria's current position is that current drainage provisions should remain in the Local Government Act, pending the outcome of any changes which may be recommended through the Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements (60 Hectare Rule) review. There are significant resourcing and legal questions which can arise from even small wording changes, so the Municipal Association of Victoria strongly recommends that detailed consultation is undertaken with the sector before any changes are made.


High potential consequence
There are significant resourcing and legal questions which can arise from even small wording changes.


Early 2018 Local Government Bill Exposure Draft released for consultation (Submissions closed 16 March 2018).


Please contact Rosemary Hancock for updates relating to changes to drainage provisions following the election.



Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements (60 Hectare Rule) Review




Current arrangements have evolved as a convention and do not assign clear roles, responsibilities and resourcing for stormwater drainage assets and services between councils and Melbourne Water.
The Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements Review is considering the role of councils and Melbourne Water in stormwater management. The review is also considering how future roles and responsibilities can account for management of population changes and climate change impacts for stormwater management issues.


High potential consequence

Any changes to this informal rule would have important financial and practical impacts on Melbourne Water and councils, because they may be expected to manage more, or less, infrastructure.


2017-2018
Consultation on the Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements review between the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne Water, the Municipal Association of Victoria and a local government steering group

Early 2019
A draft agreement is expected


The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne Water and the Municipal Association of Victoria have agreed to a process and governance arrangements for the Melbourne Urban Stormwater Institutional Arrangements review. The Municipal Association of Victoria is coordinating a local government input and participates on the project working group and steering committee. If councils would like to be involved or informed of outcomes of this review please contact Rosemary Hancock. .



Victorian Planning Provisions Clause 56.07-4 & Best Practice Environmental Management guidelines




Water for Victoria Action 5.5 commits the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to:

  • Amend the Victorian Planning Provisions and related building regulations aimed at improving stormwater management
  • Lead the development of local place-based targets for stormwater management
  • Find the best mix of legislative, regulatory, financial and market-based incentives to complement the Victorian Planning Provisions and building regulations.

Yarra River Action Plan Action 19 commits to:

  • extend coverage of stormwater provisions in the Victorian Planning Provisions to apply to all subdivisions.

Plan Melbourne Action 80 relates to:

  • reviewing planning and building systems to support environmentally sustainable outcomes for building. Action 94 is similar to Water for Victoria Action 5.5.

DELWP appointed the Improving Stormwater Management Advisory Committee to prepare an Issues Paper advising which types of development, of those not subject to the State’s urban runoff management objectives, should be required to manage their stormwater impacts and how this could be achieved. The Committee will also provide future policy directions on improving stormwater management or strengthening the links between urban water management and the planning and development system more broadly. The Issues Paper provided a conceptual planning control option and explored opportunities to extend the coverage of stormwater planning requirements under the VPPs. It also considered opportunities to deliver a ‘place-based’ approach, improve compliance and implementation and support stormwater management in the public realm.


High potential consequence Recommendations from the Improving Stormwater Management Advisory Committee are likely to be broad and wide ranging and impact on council planning requirements and regulations and potentially on other areas of stormwater management including asset management and collaboration with related agencies. Any changes would also have significant impacts on urban planning and development, because developers may have to pay for additional infrastructure (or build smarter), but there may also be associated benefits such as increased amenity.


Ongoing
June 2018 The Issues Paper was released for stakeholder consultation and stakeholder workshops were held. August 2018 The Committee provided its advice to the Ministers for Planning and Water.


The Municipal Association of Victoria assisted the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning to organise local government input through the stakeholder workshops and consulted the local government sector to make a submission on behalf of the sector. Water Policy Manager Rosemary Hancock can be contacted for further updates.



Contact us


Please contact Rosemary Hancock, Water Policy Manager, Municipal Association of Victoria, for detailed advice on policy and regulatory changes and related consultation opportunities. 

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