Melbourne’s water corporations are working hard with government and a range of other partners to secure our water supply. We are implementing water efficiency measures, investing in recycled water initiatives and harvesting more stormwater for reuse in irrigation and other fit-for-purpose uses.
Melbourne Water produces the largest amount of Class A, or high-quality, recycled water in Australia, following strict regulatory guidelines.
Recycled water is supplied to our water retailers then used for a range of non-drinking purposes, including:
- watering parks, gardens and sports grounds
- washing cars
- farming and irrigation, the biggest use for recycled water.
New initiatives for recycled water
We will continue to collaborate with the water industry to find additional ways for recycled water. New and emerging initiatives include:
- 'purple pipes', installed in homes and businesses for things like flushing toilets and watering gardens. More housing estates in Melbourne's growth corridors are being built with these dual water pipe systems
- refilling natural underground reservoirs (aquifers) that are overused or have poor quality water, and which help to keep our environment healthy
- trialling ceramic membranes, which could produce water at lower cost
- using field test kits to detect blue-green algae, which helps us quickly decide if recycled water can be safely supplied.
Water retailers are also investing in local water recycling plants, which are further expanding the use of this water resource around our region.
In a growing city with more hard surfaces like roads and roofs, the volume of stormwater entering our drains after rain is increasing. This makes stormwater an increasingly valuable water resource.
Stormwater can be collected, treated, stored and re-used for many purposes, including:
- watering sports grounds
- watering parks and gardens
- replenishing wetland habitats.
The water industry has set ambitious targets for increasing stormwater harvesting across the region. Melbourne Water is working with local councils and the water retail companies to expand the ways we harvest and re-use stormwater.
Building a water sensitive city
To build a city that is more water sensitive, the water industry is investing in more efficient and innovative water reuse systems at household, street, and large-scale development level.
Water sensitive urban design helps protect waterways by improving stormwater quality and reducing the amount of runoff.
There are a variety of techniques ranging from large-scale green roofs to household raingardens, which improve stormwater quality and reduce the amount of runoff.
Larger scale solutions consider the entire water cycle to maximise social, environmental and economic outcomes. They are guided by an Integrated Water Management (IWM) approach, which brings together agencies involved in all aspects of water resource management and policy to collaborate on project design, coordinate actions, and share knowledge and expertise to build more water sensitive and resilient communities.
IWM contributes to our water security by using more alternative water sources in more innovative ways such as:
- recycling wastewater on site
- integrating smart technologies to more efficiently manage stormwater capture and reuse
- passive irrigation systems.
IWM better protects communities from flooding and enhances community wellbeing through providing more green open space, and access to healthier, cleaner waterways.
To complement all these water sector actions, our drinking water supply includes desalinated water from the Victorian Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi.
The Desalination Plant was built following the Millennium Drought to help meet the needs of our growing city and avoid the kind of harsh water restrictions that had a negative impact on our lifestyle and economy during that drought.
The Desalination Plant is the only source of water that isn't dependent on rainfall.
Groundwater is found below the earth’s surface in the pores and crevices of soil and rocks. It is considered an alternative to surface water, and has supplemented water supplies in some severely drought-affected areas in Victoria.
Bores and wells are used to extract groundwater from aquifers – underground layers of rock, gravel, sand or silt that allow water to pass through.
Groundwater is vulnerable to drought and climate change, so we manage and monitor how it is allocated.
Read about why these actions are necessary, browse through our strategic and corporate plans, or get tips for saving more water at home.