COVID-19 update: Melbourne Water is continuing to deliver grant programs to councils and the community during this time, and working to minimise any changes to processing times. For enquiries about existing grant projects and Melbourne Water’s Incentives programs, contact the Customer Service Centre on 131 722 or email [email protected]

Living Rivers funding

home page hero

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. 

Our primary objective is to improve stormwater quality and reduce stormwater quantity, enhancing waterway and bay health. This objective is aligned with the commitments we have made with our communities in the new co-designed Healthy Waterways Strategy, and the targets the Strategy outlines for stormwater management.

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

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.

How to apply

Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted through the SmartyGrants online platform.

Before you submit your application, please ensure you review the application guidelines, complete the pre-application checklist and discuss your application with your incentives coordinator.

Contact details and additional information to support your application, including required documentation for the lifecycle of your project, are available at the bottom of this page.

Funding eligibility

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 

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, more may be offered for projects delivering exceptional value 

Funding priority

Funding priority is given to grant proposals that: 

  • contribute towards the delivery of the Healthy Waterways Strategy
  • 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

2019/20 financial year outcomes 

During the 2019/20 financial year, the Living Rivers Program awarded $2 million in total to 14 local councils for 31 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:

A new incentives program is coming soon – we are broadening our existing incentives and grants offerings to better support our customers and the community by creating a new Incentives Program. This does not affect your existing grants at this stage and existing programs remain open for new applications. We will engage with you further once the new program is refined.

Contact us

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

Last updated:
1 June 2020