Melbourne is in the middle of an urgent water crisis. Our capital city is completely dependent on rivers for its water supply. Yet inflows to our resevoirs have declined dramatically over the past decade.
The combined impacts of population growth, drought and climate change are taking their toll.
We've also taken too much water from our rivers for too many years and left them stressed and degraded.
So why does Environment Victoria view this crisis as an opportunity?
We deserve a water-sensitive city
While we're worrying about our dwindling water supply, a rainfall equal to Melbourne's total annual water use falls on our city every year. Then, it runs away unused through our stormwater drains.
This is a great opportunity for us to rethink our attitudes to water and the value we place on healthy rivers.
By focussing on the opportunities this crisis presents us with, we can take an important step towards turning our fair city into a 'water-sensitive city'. We can rethink the way we source, use and dispose of this precious resource.
A 'water-sensitive' city lives within its means by making more effective use of the water available - be it from rainwater, stormwater or recycled water. A water-sensitive city doesn't jeapordise the health of its rivers.
This type of diversified system would make us very resilient to future climate and economic shocks. And it would provide us with greater security by lessening our need to continually seek out new sources of water.
What does it takes to create a water-sensitive city? Check out A Vision for a Water Sensitive City
A pipeline and desalination plant are not the answers
The Victorian Government's current emphasis on large-scale infrastructure projects – such as the desalination plant at Wonthaggi and the Sugarloaf pipeline – are not the answer. They merely tie us in to a centralised, capital and energy-intensive approach to how we source and manage our water. The result is to undermine ongoing community efforts to be more efficient in the way we use our water.
For many years, Environment Victoria has played a constructive role and helped shape Victoria's water policy framework. We've secured commitments to give water back to the Yarra and Thomson rivers. And we've strengthened the initiatives of the state government's 2004 Our Water Our Future white paper.
But we've been disappointed in recent years to see the government drift from its 2004 White Paper commitment to manage the water in a way that understands that a healthy economy and society is dependent on a healthy environment.
We're continuing to work with government, politicians, water authorities, water users, media and others to promote a more sustainable water future for Melbourne.
And we've shown how Melbourne's short-term water needs can be met without the need for either a desalination plant nor a pipeline from the north.
Read our Water Security, Healthy Rivers: Environment Victoria's Vision for Melbourne
Read our past submissions
We work hard to make sure our government knows that we want Melbourne to be a water-sensitive city. Here are some of our past submissions that you may find interesting.
Find out how we can protect the Yarra River and meet Melbourne's water needs, with our River Relief Report, April 2009
Read more about the International Study Tour – Water Sensitive Cities 2009
Submission to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Inquiry into Melbourne's Future Water Supply, August 2008
Submission to Environment Effects Statement for the Victorian Desalination Project, September 2008
Comments on Sugarloaf Pipeline EPBC Act – Referral Reconsideration, September 2008
Download our discussion paper on the desalination plant. Powering a desalination plant – clean energy or more coal? June 2008 >
Submission to the Project Impact Assessment of the Sugarloaf Pipeline Proposal, March 2008
Environment Victoria-ACF Submission on the Draft Sustainable Water Strategy for the Central Region, Victoria, June 2006
Join our Go Yarra Flow campaign and help us get water back into Melbourne's greatest river.
Parliamentary Inquiry Into Melbourne's Future Water Supply, Victorian Government. Unravel it