Through the adoption of a 'city as a catchment' philosophy, the municipality will conserve water and improve the health of its waterways. By 2020, resident mains water use will be reduced by 40 per cent and worker mains water use will be reduced by 50 per cent (from 2000 levels). Pollution entering our waterway will be reduced by 20 per cent by 2020.
Future Melbourne 2008


The main themes within these comments were a desire for more efficient capture and use of water to improve people’s lives and the environment. There was significant discussion regarding stormwater management, mainly focused on capturing, keeping and using water close to its sources. Comments also explained how more effort could be put into water conservation. In many comments people went into specific detail of how captured water could be used, such as in local parks and local food growing ventures. Caring for and celebrating the Yarra River to improve its quality was also discussed in detail.

Summary of ideas (total 103 statements)

Waste and storm water management (31 statements)

There were many comments discussing better management of storm water, with people wanting local capture, storage and reuse of water. A significant number of environmental benefits and uses for the water were identified. Many detailed ideas were proposed on this topic, with this idea capturing many of the points made.

Water-sensitive pilot precincts -- Establish water-sensitive pilot projects in both a renewal and an existing areas. In these pilot areas: Demonstrate synergies between water/energy/food Incorporate green walls, productive roofs, green infrastructure for water treatment Provide a local (non-drinking) water supply to support vegetation / food production Use smart technology and multi-functional infrastructure to provide flood mitigation and reuse opportunities.

Specific benefits that were repeatedly identified were as follows; the reduction in flooding and the uses for water (including watering public parks and food gardens), and the subsequent reduction in water use through onsite recycling.

How this could be achieved was suggested in a number of different ways: increased harvesting and reticulation of water; water storage built into infrastructure upgrades; capturing water through green roofs; new development including storm water run-off; and, permeable surfaces to capture water and reuse it close to site.

There were conversation points made on some ideas and this point was made within one conversation regarding how far water conservation initiatives can be extended.

We should also look for opportunities to include sewer mining

One idea suggested improving management of water that runs into the Yarra, so that in 10 year’s time people can swim in the river. This conversation comment on that idea identified the need to improve storm water management for the broader environmental benefits that would accrue.

Until the State Government tidies up the storm water effluent draining down the Yarra into the bay, I wouldn't be considering swimming at a Docklands Beach. You would probably have to clear away the rubbish to get into the water. Stormwater management (or lack of it) is a disgrace in a city this size and stature.

Water conservation (29 statements)

There was an overlap between the comments included in this discussion and the storm water section (above). This section focuses mainly on the water conservation component of water management.

Similar to the discussion above, people saw water conservation benefits in using water close to its source. This extended from storm water, to use of water from cooling towers on large buildings; treating it and reusing it in local gardens. Other suggestions were water storage tanks on new homes, and anywhere they can be fitted; plumbing street awnings and using the collected water on gardens; decentralised delivery of water from multiple hubs, with the MCG one of a few examples used to explain this initiative; developing closed-loop buildings — regarding water — and, harvesting rooftop water. This comment suggested that infrastructure could be developed more effectively.

Climate responsive infrastructure -- Water is integral to building resilience in Melbourne. The impacts from climate change such as drought, heat, flood and sea level rise can be lessened by good planning and implementation of ‘no regrets’ infrastructure. Initiatives that also build the resilience of communities can also reduce vulnerability. Water security and resilience needs to be addressed in all future developments.

Another idea on the same topic was improving current water management through advancing technology.

Convserve water by using smart tech -- In 2006 39,668 million litres of water was lost to leaks in Melbourne ( . Melbourne could become a world leader in conservation by tackling this problem using low-cost wireless sensors placed across the entire city detecting leaks in real time, preventing wastage and reducing our usage of our most precious resource. An investment like this not only helps Melbourne's climate change strategy, but also generate lots of jobs in a globally expandable industry (conservation tech

There were several comments that discussed water conservation to improve the environment, or to create environmental benefits. Several people linked water capture, and its use, to growing food and other plants. One comment linked access to desalinated water, in close proximity to quality food growing soils; the suggestion being that the land in these areas should be protected for the purpose of growing food. Other suggestions were to develop green spaces around new buildings to capture water locally, another to plant natives because they use less water, and sloping parks inwards to retain water was also suggested.

Other statements on water conservation were to ensure that community-focused information is distributed; include water conservation in heritage refurbishments; and, one person wanted to be able to have enough water to water their lawns.

River quality (24 statements)

Many of these comments discussed cleaning the Yarra so that people are able to have a better experience with the river. Some wanted to be able to swim in it in the future. Many comments expressed similar sentiments to those in the idea below, with some suggesting that if London’s and Copenhagen’s rivers can be cleaned up then Melbourne should be able to achieve the same outcome.

Can we clean our river more? -- The clean-up the Yarra efforts seems to have stalled. I lived in London for a few years and the Thames cleanup has been amazing...can we really make a concentrated effort to get it into real health? As we grow and make more use of the water it really is not good enough to see things floating down it and also the oil scum and other non-goodness we know still gets in through factories and un checked outlets upstream. The Thames uses oxygen pumps in the river - can we do this type of thing?

A few statements suggested that Aboriginal people should take a lead role in river management and another suggested that this is work that should spread across Councils. A few comments did not limit themselves to water quality, stating that improvements should be extended to the banks and their vegetation.

Yarra river -- Planting native species along banks of Yarra to help fortify the banks, and discourage weed species.

The Moonee Ponds Creek was also identified as a water body that can be improved, and a couple of people suggested returning Elizabeth Street to being a creek.

Celebrating Water (10 statements)

These comments went beyond the restoration of waterways and were focused on enthusiastically appreciating, or celebrating water. The following is one comment that represents this sentiment.

Melbourne Festival of Water -- Let’s celebrate water in Melbourne. White Night festival could have a water theme one year. We could project a stream running along Elizabeth Street. Or maybe we could introduce a water festival, highlighting all the different water uses in our city.

Some people felt that the city should face the river more. Other cities that have turned their cities towards their local harbour were identified as examples to follow; cities such as Auckland and Hobart. This idea discussed the cultural capital in water, which should be more highly appreciated.

The Cultural Capital of Water Sites -- Capture water sites to exploit their cultural capital, and allow spill over. The significance of water to life is enough to empower people, and move a city. Imagine the prosperity associated with water; focus the potential of the water site. Experience how water is collected, contained and moved, by which it is governed. Celebrate

The appreciation of water in urban settings was also identified. For example, creating water features for people to congregate around. Another idea suggested that there is a need for a shared water management vision. Celebrating water through diversity was another idea. This comment took a broad interpretation of water appreciation.

Making water visible -- Make water visible in Melbourne. Activate spaces around the water frontage, create corridors around existing green/ water spaces. People are able to walk or ride to work in the shade, or get to work on the water, ferries down the Yarra. Water infrastructure should be made visible, art installations could be used to demonstrate what is underground. Create water focused events, and/or incorporate water themes in existing festivals (e.g. Moomba ).

Water use (9 statements)

Additional to the many water use suggestions covered above, such as gardens, food growing, and human consumption, there were a few other uses suggested for water. These included gifting excess urban water to farmers, using water captured by a sea wall to create fresh usable water, creating hydro power with lucid pipes, desalinated water for crops, and using the Yarra’s water as an energy source and heat sink.