Melbourne Water is taking action on climate change to continue to provide safe and reliable water services to help enhance the life and liveability of our great city, now and into the future.
Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world. Our famous lifestyle is underpinned by a secure water supply, healthy waterways, and a reliable sewerage system and drainage network.
But climate change brings hotter and drier weather, greater temperature extremes and more intense storm events. These conditions present challenges to the world as we know it, including our water services and supporting infrastructure.
At Melbourne Water, we have been adapting our operations to prepare for a changing climate and have already begun to reduce our impacts by lowering emissions, using sewage by-products (such as biogas and biosolids) as a resource and generating renewable energy. But there’s more to be done.
Melbourne Water’s pledge
We pledge to halve our emissions by 2025 and we are on a path to reduce them to net zero by 2030.
Net zero doesn’t mean we won’t be producing any emissions. It means we will remove as much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as we produce. To make up for emissions that can’t be reduced, we’ll invest in carbon offsets.
In November 2021, Melbourne Water joined the UN-led Race To Zero campaign alongside 12 Australian, 1 New Zealand and major UK water utility companies pledging to reach Net Zero Emissions by 2050 or earlier.
Through this campaign we’re adding our voice to the global message – that Melbourne Water is taking action on climate change to ensure Melbourne remains a great place to live today, tomorrow and for generations to come.
Why we are taking action
The Victorian water sector is the single largest contributor to the State Government’s total carbon emissions. Melbourne Water accounts for around half of the Victorian water sector’s emissions.
Getting water to your home as well as removing and treating your sewage takes a lot of energy. We process more than 90% of Melbourne’s sewage. Sewage treatment is energy intensive and also releases direct emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide). The energy and direct emissions associated with sewage transfer and treatment produces around 85% of Melbourne Water’s total emissions.
Our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals
As a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, Melbourne Water is guided by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in working towards a sustainable future for the communities we serve.
Melbourne Water’s pledge to halve our emissions by 2025 and exploring a path to reduce them to net zero by 2030, aligns with Goal 13 - Climate Action. By committing to the Sustainable Development Goals, we have committed to taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
How we’ve already taken action
Research and technology underpins all our planning and action around climate change.
We’ve already made great progress to reduce our carbon footprint and harnessing natural and sustainable sources to generate more renewable energy. By thinking innovatively about our operations we are:
- capturing biogas from the sewage treatment process to produce renewable electricity at both of our major treatment plants. This currently meets 80% of the Western Treatment Plant’s and 30% of the Eastern Treatment Plant’s electricity needs.
- generating hydroelectricity through our water transfer system, via 14 mini-hydro power stations, which already produce nearly 60,000 megawatt hours per year – enough to power more than 14,000 homes
- transitioning to a zero-emissions vehicle fleet within 10 years
- gathering global water experts together to identify solutions to reduce direct (or fugitive) emissions from wastewater treatment plants
- operating our Melbourne Water Docklands Headquarters which has a certified Six Star Green Star rating with sustainable designs.
We will continue to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and address the challenges of climate change by:
- building three additional mini-hydro power stations; harnessing a natural, sustainable and reliable source of energy, rather than letting this energy go to waste. Construction has already begun at our St Albans Reservoir site. Once complete, the 400 kW plant will convert energy from the pressure and flow of water going into the reservoir to generate electricity. This electricity will then be fed back into the power grid and used to reduce our operating costs.
- planning onsite solar farms at the Eastern and Winneke treatment plants to help meet their onsite power needs
- constructing additional biogas generating capacity at the Western Treatment Plant that will boost the renewable electricity generation, which at times will provide excess energy that can be returned to the power grid
- reducing our energy use for the transfer and treatment of our water supply with the introduction of the AquaAdvance Energy program
- continuing to work with our partners in academia, government, the water sector and with partner agencies to develop new ways of reducing our emissions
- sharing our knowledge to help all water businesses tackle this global challenge.