Chain of ponds: new ground in waterway management

A collaboration between 15 organisations is resulting in more cohesive and efficient outcomes that are transforming Moonee Ponds Creek into an iconic waterway for all Melburnians. Read this case study to learn more.

Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on land

Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

Sustainable Development Goal 03: Good health and well-being

Sustainable Development Goals:
Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing
Goal 11: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Goal 15: Life on land


The Moonee Ponds Creek is a major tributary of the Yarra River that begins at the edge of suburban Melbourne, and runs 35 kilometres through the city’s northern suburbs.

The creek drains an area of approximately 145 square kilometres and its extensive catchment is now largely urbanised. Until the latter part of the 19th century, the lower reaches of the creek comprised a chain of ponds draining into the West Melbourne Swamp (also known as ‘Batman’s Lagoon’).

Since then, the creek has undergone wide-ranging drainage and infrastructure works including significant realignment, so that it now joins the Yarra River at Docklands. Extensive urban and industrial development has also impacted the creek’s health. Despite these developments, the creek is still highly valued by the community.

Project focus

In an historic move, 15 organisations committed in October 2018 to developing a new vision for the creek – one that would see it transformed into an iconic waterway for all Melburnians.

Signatories to the Chain of Ponds Collaboration

Known as the Chain of Ponds Collaboration, the group’s signatories are working together to deliver co-designed projects focused on challenging traditional business-as-usual approaches and empowering communities to be part of the decision-making process.

One of the Collaboration’s strategies has been to change the way we view stormwater. Rather than seeing stormwater as water that needs to be rapidly transported away by a ‘concrete drain’, why not see it as water that creates and maintains this much-loved creek?

To realise this objective, a range of methods are being explored, including:

  • promoting green infrastructure solutions such as stormwater wetlands
  • addressing water quality issues
  • revitalising the creek corridor as a linear park
  • improving access and connectivity
  • revegetation and naturalisation (where possible)
  • other amenity improvements to celebrate this unique space.


By identifying shared issues and priorities, the Collaboration has developed principles for working together and established working groups to address priority catchment challenges.

This is already resulting in more cohesive and efficient outcomes. The Collaboration’s efforts were recognised at a state level, being awarded the 2019 Stormwater Victoria Awards for Excellence in the category for ‘Excellence in Strategic or Master Planning’.

The Chain of Ponds Collaboration is a great example of how doing something differently can be risky and time consuming, but in the long run can have outcomes that exceed expectations.

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