Living Rivers funding


The Living Rivers program offers councils funding, expertise and guidance to build their understanding, skills and commitment to manage stormwater within an integrated water management approach. Funding rounds usually open in February and September each year.

Our primary objective is to improve stormwater quality and reduce stormwater quantity, enhancing waterway and bay health. 

We’re seeking projects that address:

  • improved understanding across the region of best practice stormwater management for improving waterway health
  • greener open spaces and enhanced urban landscapes
  • alternative supply options to preserve drinking water supplies
  • reduced localised flooding
  • improved amenity in our local communities

Approximately $3.2 million will be available to local governments for projects that improve the health of waterways and the bays, support the liveability of local places and enable thriving landscapes through sustainable stormwater management.

As in previous rounds, a 1:1 co-funding commitment from your council is required. Collaboration between other partners, such as water retailers, developers and other authorities, is also encouraged.

We support a range of on-ground works and strategic projects. Our team is multi-disciplinary so that our partners can access a range of expertise.

For more details on eligibility criteria, see the information on this page and the grant application guidelines.

Who can apply

A new funding round will be open from 10 September 2018 to 3 October 2018.

You can submit your application online now or keep reading for more information on project eligibility.

Apply for Living Rivers program

    How to apply

    Applications must be made online and all supporting documentation submitted alongside the online application. 

    Please review the application guidelines and complete the pre-application checklist before submitting your application.

    Contact details for our Living River coordinators by councils can be found on the following document

    Alternatively you can contact Melbourne Water on 13 17 22 or via our Contact us form.

    Further document supporting your project and required documentation for the lifecycle of your project can be accessed at the bottom of this page.

    Types of work funded

    Examples of what Living Rivers will fund include:

    • innovative and industry leading methods of preventing, reducing and managing stormwater pollution
    • municipal Integrated Water Management Strategies with stormwater pollutant reduction targets
    • WSUD master planning - prioritisation of capital works budgets
    • community engagement to promote WSUD at home, including rainwater tanks
    • industrial estate source pollution tracking, education and enforcement
    • WSUD officers and training
    • local WSUD planning scheme amendments
    • WSUD feasibility, design and construction

    Contact the Living Rivers team for an entire list of what we will fund: email [email protected].

    Living Rivers will not fund:

    • gross pollutant traps
    • pipes or pits (other than within WSUD, or to divert stormwater for stormwater treatment)
    • WSUD online in waterways
    • waterway works (bed and bank, riparian improvement)
    • open space furniture
    • tree planting
    • maintenance works 

    Eligibility and funding criteria

    Identifying individual council needs and building strong relationships has been central to the Living Rivers approach.

    To be eligible for funding, council applicants must meet the following criteria for project submissions, projects that:

    • are undertaken by an individual council, or group of councils within our service area. Assets created must be owned and maintained by council
    • deliver improved stormwater quality and/or reduced stormwater quantity for better waterway condition and bay health (primarily reducing nitrogen to Port Phillip Bay and sediment to Western Port)
    • have matching council/partner funding to us on a 50:50 minimum basis. That is, for every dollar funded by us, the grant recipient must co-contribute at least one dollar in cash or in kind
    • council (and/or project partners) will lead and deliver the project using internal staff and resources
    • seek our grant funding to a maximum of $300,000 per project

    Funding priority

    Funding priority is given to grant proposals that:

    • have Council funding committed for projects starting June 2019 and finishing by June 2021
    • will deliver skill development and increase council’s commitment for managing stormwater within an integrated water management approach
    • demonstrate regional leadership and influence through innovation and active collaboration with other councils or organisations
    • are in drainage systems that are directly managed by councils
    • where the benefit of managing stormwater impacts on receiving water is high. Priority will be given to projects with a high connectivity to waterways of higher ecological condition
    • in our assessment, delivers investments and projects that will not occur without Living River’s funding
    • where funding provides on-ground works and council can demonstrate that they’ve committed to maintaining the asset so that it achieves its waterway management objective long term
    • where council can demonstrate that their residents support integrated water management

    2017/18 funding round outcomes

    During the 2017/18 financial year the Living Rivers Program offered in total $3.2 million to 24 local councils for 59 projects that aim to achieve sustainable stormwater management outcomes. These range from strategic planning and capital works projects to training, community engagement and personnel roles. 

    Existing projects

    Existing Living Rivers structural projects have been mapped on Google maps showing most of the constructed Living Rivers project locations.

    There are also a number of case studies of projects that have had Living Rivers involvement.

    Other case studies include:

    Contact us

    If you would like more information, please contact the Living Rivers team:

    Last updated:
    3 December 2018