Case studies

Over the years Melbourne Water has fostered meaningful partnerships with our customers and community through existing grants in waterway and stormwater management.

woman and man walking along open space

The following projects showcase the broad variety of partnerships that Melbourne Water supports, and the community and environmental benefits. An indicative list of the types of projects we can help fund is included in our Program Guidelines.

Protection and enhancement of wetlands on Phillip Island

man standing next to Phillip Island Nature Parks vehicle

Recipient: Phillip Island Nature Parks 

Amount funded: $16,500 (expected completion January 2022)

Project overview: Since 2011, Phillip Island Nature Parks (PINP) has received funding from Melbourne Water each year to tackle invasive weeds in the wetlands and coastal saltmarsh that it manages. These areas are vital to many bird species including the little penguins for which Phillip Island is famous.  

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As most land on the island has been disturbed at some time through farming, industry or housing, there are many different species of weeds to control.

“To achieve real and lasting long-term change, you need an integrated, targeted, long-term weed control program,” Senior Ranger – Coast and Wetlands, Mark Merryful. “Melbourne Water has given us the financial security to hire contractors year after year which has helped us suppress weeds and protect biodiversity.”  

Nature Parks also matched Melbourne Water’s funding on a range of other conservation activities including rabbit control, revegetation, and monitoring, resulting in improvements in biodiversity.  

At Fishers Wetland, next to Churchill Island, eight seasons of undertaking weed control in remnant vegetation has significantly reduced the amount of tall wheat grass threatening the endangered coastal saltmarsh. While kikuyu remains a problem, several native grass species have reappeared naturally, alongside 90,000 new plants. PINP is now able to tackle neighbouring land that also needs rehabilitation.  

In an exciting development, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team chose Churchill Island and another PINP reserve to release this critically endangered marsupial. Releases of other endangered animals are likely to follow.  

This makes the PINP’s ongoing efforts to control invasive weeds and pests even more important.

Gresswell Habitat Link catchment improvement

Recipient: La Trobe University (completed October 2020)

Amount funded: $19,500

Project overview

Nangak Tamboree is a biodiverse waterway found on the Melbourne Campus of La Trobe University which connects with Darebin Creek, the Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary, Gresswell Habitat Link and Gresswell Forrest. It has cultural and historical value to the Wurundjeri people and is home to several threatened flora and fauna species.

La Trobe University’s vision for Nangak Tamboree is to create an inviting, open and culturally aware space that protects biodiversity and connects communities. Part of this vision is to help protect the waterway, university and community from extreme weather events and reduce the severity of flooding on the wetlands.

Protecting this eco-corridor and ensuring its resilience to severe weather events is a shared environmental responsibility. La Trobe University partnered with Melbourne Water, Darebin City Council, the then Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (now Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action), Parks Victoria, Strathallan Golf Club and the community to reduce the severity of flooding on the wetlands to design and build a waterway channel, low level bund (used to control the flow of water) and water overflow which will divert and direct flood waters into Gresswell Lakes.

The design links the natural water flow from the existing creek bed to the remainder of the waterway by decommissioning drainage works used to divert the flow to stormwater in the past. This allows the water to continue its original course to the wetland and benefits the natural habitat and local ecology.


Community members weeding and tree planting

Improving the health of Cannibal Creek

Recipient: Cannibal Creek Landcare Group (completed July 2019)

Amount funded: $22,000

Project overview: For over 25 years, the Cannibal Creek Landcare Group (Group) has taken a proactive approach to improving the health of Cannibal Creek and surrounding environment. 

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Members met with several landholders along Cannibal Creek and supported them to apply for funding from Melbourne Water to carry out projects to keep stock out of the waterway, remove willows and other invasive weeds, control pests and revegetate degraded areas.  

Practically the entire western section of Cannibal Creek is now fenced off from stock, which will significantly improve water quality and - provided that weed control is kept up - allow native plants to regenerate. Monthly working bees and planting days organised by the Group also resulted in volunteers planting several thousand native trees, shrubs and grasses supplied by Melbourne Water. These will help stabilise the banks and restore much-needed habitat for wildlife.

A major challenge, to revegetation and regeneration involves weeds and pests, particularly deer. Again, the Group took a proactive and cooperative approach and arranged with Melbourne Water to remove willows, poplars and pines (which destroy the ecology of our waterways) from several privately and publicly owned sections along the creek. It also engaged with local businesses to help control weeds, and with licensed shooters to manage deer, foxes and rabbits.  

With so many members of the community taking steps to protect it, Cannibal Creek’s future is looking a lot brighter than when this Biodiversity Project first started in 2015.

Melbourne Ballpark Stormwater Harvesting Scheme (Altona)

Recipient: City West Water (due for completion late 2021)

Amount funded: $80,000

Project overview

Home to the Melbourne Aces Baseball Team, Melbourne Ballpark, also known as the State Baseball and Softball Centre, has previously relied on drinking water supplies to maintain its playing fields and surrounding grounds.

Thanks to a collaborative stormwater harvesting project between City West Water, Melbourne Ballpark, Hobsons Bay City Council, Melbourne Water and the then Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (now Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action), the centre will have access to 10 million litres of stormwater a year from the Laverton Stormwater harvesting scheme as an alternative water supply for irrigation.

To meet the actual and future Ballpark stormwater demands for irrigation, Melbourne Water is co-funding an automated transfer system including 300 metre pipeline to deliver stormwater to the centre. The project will double the capacity of the Laverton scheme from 10 to 20 Megalitres a year, delivering more benefits to the community and reducing the use of drinking water.

Stormwater harvesting not only saves drinking water, it also creates green, recreational spaces for the community to enjoy and prevents stormwater pollution from entering our waterways. The stormwater being harvested at Laverton would otherwise flow down the drain and into Port Phillip Bay, so the project is also preventing stormwater pollution and litter from entering local waterways.

Brunswick streetscape improvements

Dawson Street (Brunswick) Streetscape Improvements

Recipient: Moreland City Council (completed 29/12/2017)

Amount funded: $150,000

Project overview: Under Liveable Communities, Liveable Waterways, Melbourne Water can help fund projects that support healthy waterways and resilient urban landscapes and deliver community and environmental benefits.

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Partnering with Moreland City Council, we co-funded the construction of three rain gardens and nine tree pits in Dawson Street, between the Upfield railway line and Sydney Road (Brunswick).

Rain gardens are specially designed garden beds that help improve the health of our waterways and filter stormwater runoff from surrounding areas. They are often located near buildings and roads and are also called bioretention systems because they use soil, plants and microbes to biologically treat stormwater.

Moreland City Council planted the gardens with a variety of grass, shrub and tree species ordinarily not associated with rain gardens.

In addition to the rain gardens, council also extended bike lanes, widened the footpaths, upgraded the pedestrian crossing and installed bicycle hoops. The result is a shadier and safer street that helps stop stormwater runoff from polluting our waterways.


Protecting platypus in the Plenty River from stormwater pollution

Platypus sits on a log at night

Recipient: City of Whittlesea (completed 19/08/2018)

Amount funded: $9,616

Project overview: Water quality conditions can impact the main food source for our platypus. Monitoring water quality and taking action to improve it, can help look after the health of these iconic native creatures who play a vital role in our aquatic ecosystems.


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Melbourne Water supported the City of Whittlesea Council in raising community awareness of water quality threats to platypus habitat by funding the installation of environmental sensors that can detect and report pollution events in real time. Placed within the Heaths Court Drain catchment, the sensors monitor pH, conductivity, temperature and dissolved oxygen in the Plenty River, every few minutes.

The community can view the results on an intuitive Platypus Water Quality Indicator Sign. Four different coloured lights change colour when there is a change in water quality, providing a clear visual scale of the water conditions, ranging from Poor to Excellent. Both the sensors and the sign run on solar power.

Should the sensors record a pollution event, Council officers will receive SMS message alert notifications, allowing them to investigate the incident.

The City of Whittlesea Council also developed a range of teaching modules with emphasis on coding, micro-computers and environmental sensors which will allow students to become involved in a range of citizen science projects.

There were many technical challenges in the early stages of this project including finding a suitable battery, solar panel, computer, data plan and electronic sign. Collaboration with external parties was invaluable in overcoming these and the Council is well placed to deliver similar concepts in future.



Improving Farm Management and Water Runoff

Recipient: Private landholders (ongoing projects since 2010)

Amount funded: $227,337 since 2010

Project overview

Glenn and Wendy manage a dairy farm on steep, sloping land in Gippsland. This means that when it rains, sediment and nutrients from land management activities can quickly wash into waterways. Over the last seven years, Glenn and Wendy, with assistance from Melbourne Water, have worked to improve on-farm management practices and the quality of runoff leaving their property.

The steep landscape on Glenn and Wendy’s property created areas which were difficult to manage and where they needed to exclude stock. Funding from Melbourne Water allowed them to fence these areas and revegetate gullies. This has improved stock management and allowed good ground cover to grow which minimises the risk of erosion and helps filter sediment and nutrients before they enter our waterways.

Glenn and Wendy also fenced off waterways and dams to improve bank stability, water quality and stock health. By removing some dams, they could direct excess surface water into waterways as environmental flow. In addition, they prevented stock from accessing other smaller dams until revegetation can establish. These dams now act as sediment traps and help improve downstream water quality.

One wet year, Glenn and many other farmers experienced landslips in the area. Giant Gippsland Earthworms, which are a threatened species were found at the bottom of the landslip. The earthworms need specific soil moisture conditions to survive, so Glenn’s farm took part in a revegetation trial to avoid planting around the earthworm colonies, or in areas upslope of them to retain soil moisture. The farmers used local plant species and carefully considered planting locations, providing further vegetation while avoiding impacts to the worm colonies.


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