Melbourne, Australia ‘Total Watermark – City as a Catchment’

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Melbourne, Australia

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 2008

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An Australian first
Melbourne is a step closer to becoming Australia’s first city to interlink all forms of water reuse with Council adopting the final draft of the ‘Total Watermark – City as a Catchment’ strategy last week.

The report, which was open for public consultation between 8 July – 8 August, provides the framework for Melbourne to becoming a water sensitive city and seeks local solutions to water management issues.

The Lord Mayor John So said that ‘City as a Catchment’ outlined the course Melbourne needed to take to achieve successful sustainable water management and that the City of Melbourne has taken the lead in Australia by exploring a diverse range of water sources.

“The strategy aims to implement best practices to conserve, reuse and recycle water and manage the quality of storm water run-off. It also provides the framework of adaptation for climate change by responding to varying water supply opportunities.

“The City of Melbourne has engaged with stakeholders and developed key partnerships to establish specific water saving projects,” the Lord Mayor said.

Councillor Fraser Brindley, Chair of the Environment Committee said that the City of Melbourne has been implementing a sustainable water management program since 2002 and progress within 5 years has already shown a 28 per cent reduction in Council water use, 39 per cent reduction in water use per resident living in the municipality and 48 per cent reduction in water use per employee.

“Council wants to reduce the vulnerability of our water supply by reducing the demand within the city and by sourcing water in other ways. We help achieve this aim by harvesting rainwater from roofs, stormwater from roads, footpaths, gardens and other open space, water recycling at both the household and business level and use of groundwater where available.

“While the strategy recognises the important role of the natural catchment, it works primarily with the artificial city catchment to minimise mains water consumption, minimise wastewater generation and reduce the impact of stormwater discharges on receiving waters,” Cr Brindley said.

To date water conservation and stormwater quality improvements are driven out of separate water management programs at both a state and local government level.

The adoption of the strategy would shift Melbourne towards a more comprehensively managed, single urban water system utilising rainfall on roads, roofs, footpaths, parks and waterways.

The city as a catchment approach minimises importing potable water, and exporting of wastewater, from and to areas outside of the boundaries of the city, and instead optimises the use of water resources within a city.

Melbourne City Council will now implement and encourage parks planning, roads maintenance, building and construction practices to better provide for water saving, water harvesting and improving water quality and the health of the city’s waterways.

A detailed Water Savings Initiatives Map, developed to provide an overview of the 39 water saving projects in and around the city that are either completed, in progress, or proposed has already been launched and been well received. The projects are available for viewing via:

The status of identified projects on the map will be updated and new initiatives added every six months. A stage 2 update is proposed for late 2008.