Living Rivers funding and support

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

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

Living Rivers’ primary objective is for improved stormwater quality and reduced stormwater quantity for enhanced waterway and bay health. We’re seeking projects that address the following:

  • 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.

February 2017 funding round outcomes

Funding from the most recent round of the Living Rivers Program has been offered to 18 local councils for 24 projects that aim to achieve sustainable stormwater management outcomes.

In total, an additional $1.49 million has been offered through this round of funding for the 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years.

These range from strategic planning and capital works projects to training, community engagement and personnel roles. Thank you to all who applied in this round of funding.

Who can apply

The Living Rivers program offers funding to local councils within Melbourne Water's service area.  

How to apply

Applications must be made online and all supporting documentation submitted alongside the online application. Please complete the pre-application checklist before submitting your application.

Living Rivers Spring 2016 funding recipients

We are pleased to announce that 29 projects across 16 councils have been formally awarded funding as part of the Spring 2016 funding round.

These projects will receive funds in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years for a range of stormwater quality improvement works.

Over 40 applications were received and while we were unable to approve every project this round, further opportunities will be available in 2017 for councils to apply for funding. 

Types of work funded

Examples of what Living Rivers will fund:

  • 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.

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:

  1. Are undertaken by an individual council, or group of councils within our service area. Assets created must be owned and maintained by council.
  2. Are collaborations between council and other industry partners including water retailers, developers, local businesses and research institutions.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. Council (and/or project partners) will lead and deliver the project using internal staff and resources.
  6. 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 2016/17
  • can ensure project delivery by June 2018
  • 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.

Existing projects

Existing Living Rivers structural projects have been mapped on google map 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.

Moreland Community Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Project
To raise awareness of IWCM and the impacts of stormwater, Moreland City Council has launched their Integrated Water Cycle Management project with community targets in their Water Map 2020 plan.

Kingston Master Plan
A large number of councils are developing integrated stormwater management strategies that set targets for stormwater quality, harvesting and re-use. Whilst the documentation of key objectives and targets is an important first step, many councils struggle to convert this into a logical and practical implementation project.

Stonnington Biodiversity Wetland
The Stonnington Biodiversity Wetlands project has improved the treatment of stormwater and created habitat for native animals. 

Mornington Point Source Investigations
Food businesses within the Tanti and Ballar Creek catchments have been identified as potential sources of high levels of bacteria (E.Coli) in the stormwater system, subsequently contributing to beach closures and algal blooms at the well utilised downstream beaches.

Mornington Point Source Investigations case study

​Living Rivers Bioretention System Hold Points training presentation

This presentation accompanied the Living Rivers Bioretention System Hold Points training, delivered at Moreland and Kingston City Councils. The training focusses on the six main 'hold points' that will help ensure the quality delivery of a bioretention system in the design construction and handover phases of a bioretention system.

​Living Rivers Water Sensitive Urban Design Asset Audit

This report illustrates the key findings in a recent Living Rivers WSUD asset audit. The audit reviewed 95 WSUD assets around metropolitan Melbourne that have been part-funded through the Living Rivers program and owned by Council. The purpose of the audit was to evaluate the condition of WSUD assets and whether they are still delivering their intended benefits, the type of problems that exist and their causes.   

Other case studies include:

Contact us

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


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