Melbourne’s water-efficient future

Between now and 2050, Melbourne’s population is projected to reach 8 million, up from its current 4.5 million inhabitants. To guide this growth, the Victorian Government has launched Plan Melbourne, a blueprint to guide the city towards a sustainable, productive and liveable future.

Melbourne’s water-efficient future

Plan Melbourne aims to improve the water performance of the city’s built environment while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This will be achieved by managing the urban water cycle in an efficient way that makes the best use of all water sources.

City West Water in support

To support Plan Melbourne, City West Water – one of three retail water businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and owned by the Victorian Government –  has initiated a couple of projects that will enhance water use efficiency in the built environment and maximize existing sources, including collaborating with other Melbourne water utilities on a digital water meter program and implementing a water recycling project.

Melbourne's sustainable, productive and livable future

Melbourne’s sustainable, productive and liveable future

Digital metering program

City West Water is working together with South East Water and Yarra Valley Water to explore the possibility of rolling out digital water meters. Digital water meters help identify leaks, both within the customer’s property and across the water network, as well as enable customers to receive timely information on their water usage and the bill so they can make informed choices about their water consumption and avoid high water bills.

Currently, the utilities are conducting research to understand the view of their customers in relation to the future of water meters in Melbourne and the benefits they could receive. Once a thorough analysis has been conducted, the utilities will decide in late 2017 on whether digital water meters are financially viable and deliver significant benefits to customers, the community and the utilities. If the outcome is positive, the utilities will seek financial support for the roll-out of the meters from customers, the Victorian Government and Essential Services Commission (independent industry regulator for the water utilities).

100% recycled water

City West Water’s West Wyndham Recycled Water Project aims to deliver high quality, Class A* recycled water to housing estates in the Wyndham area, as well as a number of open spaces managed by the Wyndham City Council. Currently, recycled water – a mix of drinking water and recycled water – is supplied to around 3,750 homes in the area. The aim of the West Wyndham Recycled Water Project is to create a supply of 100 percent recycled water in 2017. The recycled water will come from Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant, where it will be further processed and sent to homes and open spaces in the Wyndham West area through a dedicated ‘purple pipe’ recycled water system.

*Class A recycled water can be used for toilet flushing, car washing on grassed areas, garden watering, filling water features, providing drinking water for pets and washing machines. It SHOULD NOT be used for drinking, cooking or food preparation, bathing or showering, swimming, bidets and sanitary sprays and filling of water toys.

The take-out

Technological innovations that enhance water efficiency and maximize available sources are key to ensuring a resilient, livable future.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley), and of the forthcoming titles Blue and Green Cities (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Palgrave Macmillan). He is Founder of Mitidaption, which consults on climate change risks to business, governance and society.

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Author: Robert C. Brears

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