Flooding is a natural and inevitable part of our weather cycle. While it will always happen in cities like Melbourne, we aim to minimise the risk to people, property and infrastructure. Find out how.

Heavy rain washes leaves and rubbish toward drains

Why floods happen

Flooding can be caused by:

  • rivers and creeks bursting their banks (riverine flooding)
  • ocean tides above normal sea levels (coastal tidal and storm surge flooding)
  • sea level rise resulting from climate change

However, most flooding problems happen because much of Melbourne was built following older drainage design standards. Before the 1970s, developers did not have to plan where excess floodwater would flow once the drainage system was full. This water still follows natural valleys and drainage paths — which often run through people’s properties, flooding them in severe storms.



Development encroaching upon Yarra River

Protecting yourself and your home

In a flood, the most important thing to do is get out safely. For help call the Victoria State Emergency Service on 132 500, or if your situation is life-threatening call 000.

Could you be affected by flooding in the future? Make sure you know the risks then get adequately prepared.

Find out if you live
in a flood-prone area



Flooding at the Western Treatment Plant

Minimising flooding impacts

Assessing the severity of flooding 

It’s impossible to prevent all floods. Extreme weather events are unpredictable, and replacing all of Melbourne’s old drains would be too costly, disruptive and time consuming — taking longer than the life of the affected buildings.

We therefore prioritise flood risks classified as extreme, based on their social, safety and economic consequences, and build infrastructure to reduce their severity and impact. 



Flooding over road

Informing the design of new suburbs

Discover how we make sure new suburbs are better designed, with:

  • underground drainage that can handle common storms
  • planned overland flow paths like roads, channels and open spaces, which carry excess floodwater away from houses.


Constructed waterway: Kennedy Creek DS Section 34 - Fallingwater Estate

Managing infrastructure

Discover how we manage drainage infrastructure, including our work to minimise the impact of flooding by safely carrying stormwater away from built-up areas into rivers and creeks. This includes major capital projects to reduce flood risk, and the role of retarding basins

If you're a developer, find out how we review planning permits to ensure you consider flood risk.

Check out our rainfall and river level data, which we monitor to warn other government agencies of major floods.




Man walking past a flooding sign near Ceres

Know our strategic direction

Melbourne Water has started work on the refresh of the Flood Management Strategy, which sets the direction for flood management in the Port Phillip and Westernport region. Know more about how we're working to plan, avoid and reduce flood risks while supporting emergency preparation and response.

Read the Flood
Management Strategy




Last updated:
3 August 2020