River health and monitoring

We monitor rivers and creeks so we know if their condition changes or our improvement programs need adjusting. Learn how we assess river health and view current data.

Indicators of river health

  • water quality
  • habitat for plants and animals
  • river flow patterns
  • connections to other rivers and creeks that allow animal migration
  • physical shape of the river
  • diversity and abundance of plants and animals species, especially native species (key values) 

How healthy are our waterways?

There are large differences in the condition of waterways across Melbourne. Generally, the more natural areas upstream are healthier than those downstream, which are impacted by urban development.

Our waterways are in good condition overall compared to others near major cities. For example:

  • the Yarra River has greatly improved since the 1970s, due to large reductions in the amount of industrial waste and sewage dumped into it
  • pollution has remained stable over the past few years — a big achievement given how fast Melbourne is growing, with every new driveway and pavement increasing stormwater runoff

Key waterway values

One of the main ways we assess waterway health is by looking at the key values they support, which reflects their environmental and social importance.

The key values are:

  • fish
  • platypus
  • frogs
  • birds
  • macroinvertebrates
  • vegetation
  • amenity (community satisfaction and visits)

We rate these values from very low to very high across a system of waterways, balancing out differences in waterway characteristics that allow some to better support key values than others. This means the health of your local waterway may not always change, even if the overall system improves.

Last updated:
30 April 2020